If he had to do it over again, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he would give his players Thursday off. That was the original plan going into Friday-Saturday games against the Devils and Hurricanes, but Boucher said he saw some aspects of his team's game that needed addressing. So the team practiced and it lost twice. And Boucher took the blame. It also led to the team having Sunday and Monday off, with no practice, prior to Tuesday's game with the Blue Jackets.
"The players were off and a little tired," Boucher said of the back-to-back losses. "I knew it and last Thursday I had no practice (scheduled), but at the last moment I changed my mind. There were a few things that were urgent to practice. we improved those things very well. The problem is our smarts and attention to detail wasn't there because the guys were tired."
Center Nate Thompson said the players appreciated being off Sunday and Monday.
"After a couple of back-to-back losses like that, it's good to get a mental break and get away from it and come back rejuvenated and have a good start with fresh legs," he said. "Guys are getting rest and taking care of their bodies and getting a mental break, too."
Asked if he saw a difference in the players during Tuesday's morning skate, Boucher said yes and joked, "Their eyes were open."
Seriously, though, "Some teams can manage with no jump," he said. "But we're not a powerhouse. When we're missing that energy we're off and that's what happened lately."
Desjardins hurt: AHL Norfolk goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, who made such an impression in two victories for the Lightning on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1, sustained an undisclosed upper-body injury in Sunday's game with Charlotte and will have tests over the next day or two to determine the extent of the injury. Desajrdins, 14-6-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and a shutout for the Admirals, left Sunday's game in the second period after a collision with a Charlotte player. To fill the gap, Jaroslav Janus has been promoted from ECHL Florida.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. ... Roloson said he likely, finally, will wear his new mask. He has had it for almost a week, but said he has been trying to get the fit exactly right. ... Roloson was taken by the Blue Jackets in the June 2000 expansion draft, but signed in July with the Wild as a free agent. Roloson said he had been told at the time he was selected he was not really in the team's plans (which raises the question why he was even selected in the first place). "They were really up front with me," Roloson said. "They said, 'We needed to get something. We needed to take a goalie and we did. Unfortunately, you're not going to be with us.' It was great that they were up front with me and honest. it allowed me to focus on going somewhere else." ... The Columbus Dispatch has reported, however, that then-GM Doug MacLean did not even believe Roloson would ever be an NHL goalie. Roloson said he never heard that, and even if he did, " My two hours with the organization, I don't think holds any bearing on anything. It's just another team. For me, you put on the jersey of the team you're playing for. It doesn't matter who the other team is." ... Boucher said his experiment with a five-forward power play is over, and he will go with defensemen on the point. That the power play is 2-for-31 in its past eight games is one thing. A bigger problem, he said, is the nine shorthanded goals the team has allowed on the season, tied with the Sabres for worst in the league. Look for Victor Hedman, Mike Lundin, Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark to get power play time. ... Captain Vinny Lecavalier, who plays his 900th NHL game on Tuesday, said the power play problems are simple. "We're not entering the perimeter as much. We have to shoot more, just be more aggressive. It always comes back to that. It's always probably the same answer, but after a while you have to get back to basics and then you can make some plays." ... Good for wing Teddy Purcell who took Sunday's last-minute scratch like a man, and on Tuesday even said it was deserved. "I'm just more disappointed in myself for not doing what (Boucher) expects of everyone, doing it sometimes but not doing it consistently," said Purcell, who has seven goals and 25 points, but just one goals in his past 15 games. "It's a wake-up call, and I have a good opportunity (Tuesday) to get in and get some power-play time and take advantage of it." Boucher said Purcell's difficulties have more to do with defensive responsibility. Either way, he does not like scratching regular players. "I hate that," Boucher said. "But sometimes when you're at step two, three, four, you have to go to step five." ... Interesting that wing Ryan Malone is on a third line with center Dominic Moore and Purcell. Boucher had said in the past he did not want to play Malone in that spot. But with Steve Downie back and Boucher wanting to keep Sean Bergenheim's speed on Lecavalier's line, Malone has nowhere else to go. "I'm looking with size with Purcell and Moore." ... Boucher declined to answer questions about his flirtation with the Blue Jackets before he came aboard with the Lightning. He would not even say if he turned down Columbus, though that has been the speculation. As for the Blue Jackets, who are last in the Central division, Boucher sounded a warning. "They've got a lot of skill," he said. "If we don't play a good defensive game, they're going to take it to us, for sure." ... Lecavalier on his time in Tampa: "I believe I will be here for the rest of my career, and I'm excited."