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 goalie Smith out, Niittymaki in vs. Penguins, Lecavalier line gets new wing

Mike Smith, right, colliding with teammate Todd Fedoruk during a Senators goal, will sit tonight. Antero Niittymaki will start.

Associated Press

Mike Smith, right, colliding with teammate Todd Fedoruk during a Senators goal, will sit tonight. Antero Niittymaki will start.

PITTSBURGH — Mike Smith could have been emotional. Instead, he was philosophical.

He could have vented. Instead, he kept his head up.

"Sometimes you learn from new experiences," the Lightning goaltender said after being assigned to the bench for tonight's game with the Penguins at Mellon Arena.

"Hopefully, I take it as a learning experience and not as a knock, by any means."

Antero Niittymaki getting the call wasn't the only change after Thursday's dreadful 7-1 loss to the Senators.

Steve Downie, a feisty presence the past few games, went from the fourth line to right wing on Vinny Lecavalier's line. Stephane Veilleux went from Lecavalier's line to the fourth.

And coach Rick Tocchet said alterations could be made to a power play that allowed two short-handed goals to Ottawa and another Monday to the Panthers.

But Smith's situation drew the most scrutiny.

After allowing two bad goals to Ottawa, Smith is 0-2-2 with a 4.08 goals-against average, second worst among league starters entering Friday, and an .864 save percentage, third worst.

Niittymaki won his two starts and has a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

After needing six months to overcome postconcussion syndrome, Smith was run over by New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner and teammate Ryan Malone during the Oct. 8 home opener.

Smith said the hit left no lingering damage.

"I'm fine," he said.

But tormented.

"Those games sting. They leave a mark," he said of the loss to Ottawa. "I don't think I've played bad the last three games, but I know the results aren't there, the end results, the thing that means the most. The wins are not there, and that's the most frustrating part about it."

Said Tocchet: "I don't want to get into a situation, if a goalie plays bad, you don't play him the next night. I don't think that's fair to any goalie. I just felt, 'Give Smitty some practice time.' You have to remember, he hasn't played much in six months, and we haven't had a ton of practice time. He'll be fine."

Tocchet hopes Friday's practice has similar healing effects on a team outshot 35-17 by the Senators and, entering Friday, with a league-worst three short-handed goals against.

A 3:15 p.m. practice start, three or four hours later than usual, was done purposefully to shake up the routine, Tocchet said. But one-on-one and two-on-two puck battles were the real prescription.

"I just felt the trains got off the track with our battle level, not protecting the house, what we call the house in front of our net," he said. "We had too many guys circling, so we had to get back to basics. The last two games were an alarm for the coaching staff. We have to get this thing back on track."

"We just have to make sure we're better physically in the one-on-one battles and taking away time and space," left wing Ryan Malone said.

Especially against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

"They're 6-1," Tocchet said. "If we're going to try to trade chance-for-chance with those guys, it might be 14-1."

Imagine the emotions then.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Smith out, Niittymaki in vs. Penguins, Lecavalier line gets new wing 10/16/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 17, 2009 6:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Strange case: Bucs could face nemesis Case Keenum again

    Bucs

    Who, you might wonder, will be the first NFL quarterback to beat Jameis Winston three times?

    Case Keenum of the Minnesota Vikings drops back to pass in the first half Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. [Getty Images]
  2. USF men's basketball gets off lightly with NCAA

    College

    Former USF men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua, center, with former assistants Oliver Antigua, left, and Rod Strickland during a game at the Sun Dome on Nov. 9, 2015. (Octavio Jones, Times)
  3. Toledo feels like a second season opener for Miami Hurricanes

    Blogs

    LAKE BUENA VISTA - The schedule says Week 4, but it sure doesn't feel that way for the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes.

    The Miami Hurricanes suit up for practice Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex
  4. HomeTeam 25: Volleyball rankings for Tampa Bay

    Volleyball Preps

    1. Plant (2-0)

    TAMPA - Berkeley Prep senior Isabella Samson looks for an opening against Walton High from Georgia during the championship final on Saturday at the Berkeley Premier tournament. Walton, ranked No. 1 in the country by maxpreps.com, went on to defeat the Bucs 25-16, 25-18. Taken 9-16-17 by Scott Purks
  5. For ex-Rays/now Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the legacy is in the jeans

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon has plenty of memories of his time at the Trop during nine years of managing the Rays. "Too many to count,'' he said.

    "The only thing I've really focused on regarding my legacy to this point is that fact that I think I really altered dress codes,'' Joe Maddon said.