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 hopes golf, change of scenery will help it refocus

ESTERO — Lightning players on Tuesday stood at center ice at Germain Arena and raised their sticks to the 300 or so people who had come to watch.

The salute not only ended a 90-minute practice but two days in which the team tried to break the monotony of a 12-game home­stand with golf in Naples, a team dinner and a workout where Tampa Bay shares an ECHL affiliate with the Hurricanes.

"It was great to get away and break up the schedule and the daily routine," defenseman Mattias Ohlund said. "We had a great couple of days."

And now, back to reality.

The Lightning, whose lead in the Southeast Division has shriveled to one point over the Capitals, faces a gauntlet to end the homestand on which it is 5-3-2 but is staggering toward the finish — 2-3-2 in its past seven games and 0-2-1 in its past three.

Tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, it's the Coyotes, who entered Tuesday with a seven-game winning streak. On Friday it's the Devils, who entered Tuesday on a 15-1-2 run.

"Very difficult against two opponents who don't want to lose," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We have to force it down their throat or it ain't going to happen."

And, really, that's what the past two days were all about, getting the players refreshed and refocused and back to playing a style in which they dictate the pace and flow of games.

It hasn't been that way for a while. The power play has 13 goals in 26 games. The penalty kill has allowed goals in seven straight games. And No. 1 goalie Dwayne Roloson is 1-3-1 in his past five starts with a 4.51 goals-against average and .854 save percentage.

No wonder the team needed a break.

Not everyone played golf; some players lounged at the pool and on the beach. And the team dinner helped defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron and Eric Brewer bond with new teammates.

"It's always a mental refresher," said goalie Dan Ellis, who tonight could get his second straight start. "We didn't get away from our practices. We still practiced hard and did what we had to do to learn and build."

One who found more angst than rejuvenation was Boucher, who said he was up until 3 a.m. Tuesday fretting about special teams and whom to start in net.

He does not want his players worrying about the Capitals.

"We don't care about the race," Boucher said. "Every time we start looking at standings and start talking about it, that's when we start having slumps. Our slumps have been very short because we stopped talking about it."

Mostly.

"It's going to come down to the last few games," Ohlund said of the Southeast race. "But the focus for us has to be to worry about ourselves. We're playing some of the best teams in the NHL in the next little while. We have to take our game up a notch. Our game hasn't been fantastic the past few weeks. We've done some good things but we haven't played the way we know we can."

Something which the team hopes a little R & R will cure.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning hopes golf, change of scenery will help it refocus 02/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.