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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher calls goalies meeting

TAMPA — Coach Guy Boucher said the inconsistency from his goaltenders isn't due to lack of talent or effort.

Boucher believes Mike Smith and Dan Ellis have been trying to do too much and said a meeting he had with the two Friday was to help them simplify their approach and focus.

Ellis said the meeting was great. The two points of emphasis were cutting down first-shot goals and not leaving the net as much to play the puck.

"They want to do so well that they're focusing on too many things at the same time," Boucher said. "They want to stop the shot and the backdoor, and maybe if it's a two-on-one and maybe if there's a guy open. And that usually has a tendency to happen when things are not going the way you want and you want to do so good that you're focusing on too many things. Right now they're going to focus on that first shot, and everybody else will take care of everything else that's coming."

The Lightning's defense has played well, allowing the league's second-fewest average shots per game, 27.7 entering Saturday, but its combined save percentage was a league-worst .878.

"The biggest thing we want to eliminate is the first-shot goals and the goals that are just momentum killers," Ellis said. "Even though you can say there have been some bad bounces, you want to try to eliminate those situations."

Ellis said Boucher's suggestions and constructive criticism were welcomed.

Said Boucher: "I think it's going to help them, because they're good goaltenders. They've just had a more difficult time lately. But I trust them, and I have confidence that they're going to rebound."

TOUGH BREAK: RW Steve Downie knew something was wrong when his right foot rolled back in an awkward way during a forecheck in Thursday's game at Boston. But he didn't think it was this serious. Downie is out three to four weeks with a high ankle sprain.

"It's definitely frustrating," he said. "We've got a pretty big road trip coming up, and I'll be at home."

LW Simon Gagne took Downie's spot on the top line with Marty St. Louis and C Steven Stamkos on Saturday against the Avalanche. Boucher said recently recalled forward Johan Harju and C Mattias Ritola will fill in for Downie on the second power-play unit because he wants to keep from wearing out key penalty-killers Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore.

Downie said he tried to play with the injury for a while Thursday but he had a lot of problems turning on the foot.

Boucher said high ankle sprains are especially problematic: "Honestly, those are one of the worst things besides rips in muscles. They last longer sometimes than fractures. Hopefully we'll cross our fingers and he's got a more minor one than we think, but it's not looking very good."

MISCELLANY: Captain Vinny Lecavalier continues to progress in his rehabilitation after right hand surgery. He said he can now grip a stick and hopes to begin shooting in the next week.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher calls goalies meeting 12/04/10 [Last modified: Sunday, December 5, 2010 12:04am]
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