Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Craig motivated by stint with AHL Norfolk

It would have been easy for Ryan Craig to sulk when demoted to AHL Norfolk near the end of training camp. Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said perhaps 90 percent of NHL players sent down do just that.

"But he'd never do that," Tocchet said of the forward. "That's the character guy Ryan Craig is."

Craig worked hard at Norfolk, scored seven goals in 11 games and Thursday was back with the Lightning. "I looked at it as a stepping-stone to where I wanted to be," he said. "Obviously, I wasn't happy with my game. It's still a work in progress, but I think I used it the right way, as motivation."

It has been a difficult stretch for Craig, 27, who because of knee and back injuries played just 61 games combined the past two seasons. Craig said he is healthy and feels as good as he did in 2006-07, when he scored six goals in Tampa Bay's first nine games.

Tocchet said Craig, a 2002 eighth-round draft choice, must still work on his speed. But he takes faceoffs, kills penalties and likes to get in front of the net.

He also has a little more perspective after three-plus years with the Lightning, thanks to his stint with the Admirals. "It was just go play and prove that I can play minutes," said Craig, who in two games since his return averaged 9:56 of ice time, "prove that I can deal with the grind and stay healthy.

"I didn't look at it like I was going to be down there forever. I looked at it like a step to get back to where I was and where I wanted to be physically and mentally as an NHL hockey player."

No wonder Tocchet said, "Ryan Craig is a favorite of mine."

LONG TIME: Tampa Bay (6-4-5) hasn't been two games over .500, not including overtime losses, since Nov. 19, 2007.

SIGNS OF LIFE: The power play, which was in a 3-for-31 rut, has converted 3 of 10 chances the past two games. But RW Marty St. Louis said the unit will not be consistent until it gets more than one shot per trip into the offensive zone.

"The puck retrieving, the puck battles in the offensive zone, we haven't been that sharp," he said. "We've been one shot and out. We have to retrieve pucks and win battles to get second and third opportunities instead of having to go back in your end zone. It takes time off the clock. It breaks the flow."

Said LW Ryan Malone: "We've got to get back to the basics of shooting the puck and hunting it down."

Malone said the team hoped to be a top-five power play after a preseason in which it converted 24.1 percent of its opportunities. Entering Sunday, Tampa Bay was 21st in the league at 17.6 percent.

"The good news is we're still getting points (in the standings) and we don't think (the power play is) very good," he said.

CLUTCH PLAYER: Malone not only entered Sunday with a league-high four winning goals, he is just the eighth player, and first since the Flyers' Brian Propp in 1982-83, with four in a team's first five victories.

Tocchet said it is not a surprise: "You look at the goals he gets, they're usually around the net; rebounds, deflection goals. That's something you try to preach to guys is get to those areas, and Bugsy will do that."

"Close games, you try to go out there and get the go-ahead goal or insurance goal, whatever the case may be. That's all it is," said Malone, who has 10 goals. "I was fortunate to have a couple go in at the right time."

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Craig motivated by stint with AHL Norfolk 11/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 8, 2009 10:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FSU, Gators, USF and Miami all in Athlon preseason top 25

    Blogs

    The college football preseason magazines are trickling in, as our Joey Knight wrote earlier.

  2. Bucs' Jameis Winston rising in fantasy football rankings

    Blogs

    We're still probably three months away from most fantasy football drafts, but it's not too early to appreciate that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has taken a major step up in the rankings entering his third NFL season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is ranking much higher in fantasy football rankings entering his third NFL season.
  3. A new look at the top of women's tennis: It's wide open

    Tennis

    ROME — Asked Sunday if she believed, as the oddsmakers do, that she is the French Open favorite, Simona Halep dissented.

  4. Jake Odorizzi has a winning record for his career when pitching on five days of rest. He’s 12-9 in 34 starts. Pitching on a normal four days of rest, Odorizzi is 15-17 in 34 starts. On six or more days rest he is 6-6 in 18 starts.
  5. Sebastien Bourdais has surgery, likely out for rest of IndyCar season (w/ video)

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais is recovering from pelvis surgery after his car slammed into a barrier, and he is expected to miss the rest of the season.

    Sebastien Bourdais wrecks during Indy 500 qualifying, resulting in fractures in his pelvis and a fractured right hip. He says he appreciates the support and well wishes.