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 getting back up to speed on defense

WASHINGTON — Lightning coach Guy Boucher tried to paint a picture of how important defensive zone positioning is during Tuesday's high-tempo practice.

Boucher tapped his stick in two spots, 5 feet apart, asking players how big of a difference it makes.

"Five feet is everything," he yelled.

Though Tampa Bay did a lot of things better in Monday's 6-5 shootout loss to the Capitals, including getting 22 scoring chances, it continued to have issues in defensive positioning, decision-making and awareness in its zone, which led to costly turnovers and lost one-on-one battles.

The Lightning was at its best last season with its textbook application of Boucher's system, seemingly working in unison. But players are having to relearn it, reapply it and find a way to trust themselves — and each other — without hesitation.

"We're not quite on the same page, whatever the reason," defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron said. "It seems like we kind of forgot over the summer. Now we're back at it. It needs some focus, needs some attention. Guys are realizing now that … we just can't show up at the rink and play. We have to be thinking and knowing what we're doing."

Despite allowing more than 40 shots in each of the past two games, Boucher doesn't believe the team is playing poorly defensively overall. He pointed out that in the Washington game, 15 of the Capitals' 43 shots came on the power play and the Lightning didn't give up odd-man rushes. But, Boucher said, the Lightning has lost one-on-one battles in the zone and given too many defensemen shots by collapsing too low, "kind of cocooning in front of our net."

Defenseman Eric Brewer said that if everyone is in the right position, reads become clearer, with less hesitation. "There's no, 'Is he supposed to be there?' "

"It's not just (trusting) your teammates, it's trusting yourself," Boucher said. "Like, 'Is it me?' Or, 'Should I go? Or, 'Can I really go?'

"Right now there's all kind of hesitation, and when you ask them, they have all the answers for the (chalk) board (sessions). So it's not like they're all mixed up. They know it's executing in the heat of the battle with extremely high speed, which is basically what they didn't have for months, having to react for months at high speed like that."

But the biggest issue in the defensive zone has been turnovers. A giveaway led to the Capitals' tying goal late in Monday's game.

"We're trying these plays that are complicated plays to break out (when) we've got the simple play," Boucher said. "Or we're on breakout mode (when) we don't even have the puck and we're supposed to be in d-zone mode.

"If we get rid of the turnovers like we can, right there 90 percent of our defensive zone problems are taken care of."

Center Nate Thompson said the Lightning has played well in its zone through stretches, just not consistently. "It's a game of inches," he said.

"We're not way off," Bergeron said. "But we're obviously playing in the NHL, so a little thing that we miss makes a big difference, and teams are taking advantage of that."

notes: C Dominic Moore did not practice due to illness. … D Mattias Ohlund had arthroscopic surgery on both knees in Tampa, performed by team medical director Dr. Ira Guttentag.

Tampa Bay Lightning getting back up to speed on defense 10/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Gordon Hayward's message to Celtics from hospital bed after gruesome injury

    Nba

    BOSTON — Gordon Hayward's face was etched in pain and shock.

    Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics sits on the floor after being injured while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on October 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. [Gregory Shamus | Getty Images]
  2. Rick and Tom podcast: Where does Winston rank among top QBs?

    Blogs

    Where does Bucs QB Jameis Winston rank among current NFL QBs this year? The result might shock you. Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down a new poll by Sports Illustrated in their latest podcast.

    Where does Jameis Winston rank among the NFL's top quarterbacks?
  3. Epilogue: USF's Mike Radomski made thank-yous a way of life

    College

    TAMPA — He was a sucker for baseball and benevolence. Mike Radomski tracked every gesture, regardless of how noble or benign, as meticulously as pitch counts in his volumes of scorebooks.

    Assistant director of communications Mike Radomski, who primarily served as the media liaison for men's basketball but also worked with several other Bulls sports, died shortly after 1 a.m. Oct. 12, 2017 in a car accident on Interstate 75 near his Wildwood home. He was 29. PHOTO PROVIDED.
  4. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  5. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.