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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher defends shootout choices

For anyone still questioning why Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher has not used his star players much on shootouts lately, we offer these shootout stats from this season:

Steven Stamkos 0-for-5. Vinny Lecavalier 0-for-4. Marty St. Louis 0-for-4. Simon Gagne 0-for-2.

In other words it shouldn't have been a surprise during Monday's shootout against the Capitals when Boucher sent out Dominic Moore and Adam Hall as his first two shooters. Moore was 3-for-5 entering the game. Hall was 2-for-6. Still, Versus analysts Pierre McGuire seemed mildly surprised. While acknowledging the Lightning's success with lesser-known players handling the shootouts, he called the move unorthodox.

For the record, Boucher used Lecavalier as the third shooter against Washington. Like Moore and Hall, Lecavalier failed and Tampa Bay lost the shootout 1-0.

"I wouldn't change what I did (Monday)," Boucher said. "I went with Moore and Hall who are our best guys in practice in shootouts and who have been by far the best guys in shootouts in games. It's easy to second guess, but now that Hal and Moore haven't scored, then it gets me to the other stage."

The first stage was acknowledging the Lightning's star players are not very good at shootouts. Not a criticism, just the way it is. That is why Boucher went to using players such as Moore, Hall and defenseman Victor Hedman. Tampa Bay was 5-2 at one point in shootouts. The team has lost its past three, though, with Moore, Hall and Hedman struggling, so, perhaps, it's time to go back to the big guns.

The point is, Boucher wasn't just throwing guys out there without giving it any thought. Even sending Lecavalier out against Washington wasn't a whim.

"It's not like they're looking at me to go on," Boucher said of his top guns. "But I was going to put on one of the three (either Lecavalier, St. Louis or Stamkos), and my thinking was Vinny had scored that (disallowed) goal, and it's got to come back -- not."

The bottom line, Boucher said, "If you don't follow this team every day you don't know what the real decisions are and what they're about. ... The last thing I'm afraid of is being criticized. I want to win the game, and (Monday), when I was behind the bench, what gives us the best chance to win? It's not what gives me my bailout where I put my top guys out so if we lose I'm okay as a coach. I make decisions to win."

Said St. Louis: "He's made some great decisions this year and not just on shootouts. You can't argue with (success). As professionals and players on the bench, you stay ready to go."

Lundin ready? Defenseman Mike Lundin, out 13 games with what is believed an abdominal injury, practiced with the team on Tuesday and could play Wednesday against the Blackhawks. The plan was to get Lundin in by the weekend, but with Randy Jones out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain sustained late in the third period against the Capitals, Lundin may be forced to go a little early.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher defends shootout choices 03/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 4:44pm]
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