Make us your home page

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 not giving up on remote possibility of making playoffs

TAMPA — The Lightning crossed an invisible line, perhaps of no return, with Tuesday's jarring loss to the Thrashers.

Hard to argue you still have a chance at a playoff spot when you can't beat the worst team in your division.

Neither players nor coaches said they are in wait-till-next-year mode. But by any objective measure, getting to the postseason is now so remote as to be nearly impossible.

As right wing Marty St. Louis said Wednesday, "It is a realistic thought that, you know, if we don't win most of our games, we're not going to get there."

Tampa Bay, with 47 points, is 12th in the East, 13 behind the Panthers for the last spot. Even if Florida, with 60 points, goes 14-15 in its final 29 games to finish with 88, the Lightning would have to go 21-7 in its final 28 games to get to 89. And that doesn't take into account how other teams pursuing the Panthers do.

"It's pretty huge," left wing Ryan Malone said of the task. "But if you're down, you have to look at it as a challenge. And if we do come back and make the playoffs, people will be, like, 'Wow, those guys really came together.' It's something we want to do in this room."

Nice to say, but the team has given no indication it can put together that kind of run.

The Lightning is 1-4-1 with nine goals in its past six games and lost 3-1 to Atlanta in the second game of a six-game homestand players said they likely had to sweep to stay in the hunt.

Tampa Bay has injuries, including No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith out with postconcussion syndrome. But that does not excuse, coach Rick Tocchet said, "why certain players weren't interested in the game."

That is why tonight's matchup with the Maple Leafs at the St. Pete Times Forum is so important; not so much in the context of a playoff push, but considering the March 4 trade deadline.

"If it's a recurring thing with some guys," Tocchet said of the lax play, "they won't be here."

Still, right wing Mark Recchi said nothing is impossible: "Until that last day when we're out of the playoffs, I'm concentrating on a playoff push. That's the way everybody should play."

"Just take one game at a time and try to win the next one and try to win the next one," St. Louis said. "We've got to get on a run, seven, eight, nine, 10 games. Until we get on a run, we can't even look at the standings."

Neither can the coach.

"We're trying to get this ship righted," Tocchet said. "That doesn't deviate to where you are in the standings. Whether we make the playoffs or not, we're trying to create our structure and when you come to the rink, being prepared to play.

"It's up to the coaching staff to make sure every day we come to work we have that attitude. If we have the attitude of wait-till-next year, we've taken a major step back."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Tonight: Lightning vs. Maple Leafs

When/where: 7:30; St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa.

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

Injuries: Tampa Bay — D Paul Ranger (upper body), G Mike Smith (concussion), D Andrej Meszaros (arm), G Olie Kolzig (arm) and D Jamie Heward (concussion) are out; F Paul Szczechura (lower body) is day to day. Toronto — D Tomas Kaberle (hand) and D Mike Van Ryn (knee) are out.

Key stats: The Maple Leafs have the league's worst penalty kill at 74.4 percent and a league-low one short-handed goal. … LW Jason Blake leads Toronto with 19 goals and 42 points. … The Leafs are 1-for-14 on the power play in their past four games. The Lightning is on an 0-for-15 streak. … Lightning RW Mark Recchi has hit a dry spell with one goal in his past 12 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning not giving up on remote possibility of making playoffs 02/11/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 6:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]
  2. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  3. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  4. Rays at Twins, 2:10 p.m. Saturday, Minneapolis

    The Heater

    Today: at Twins

    2:10, Target Field, Minneapolis

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  5. State baseball: Unbeaten Calvary Christian makes it 29 straight wins, reaches final


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian is one game from season-long perfection. And its first state championship.

     Calvary Christian players celebrate their win after the FHSAA class 4A semi-final against American Heritage on Friday May 26, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary defeated American Heritage 7 to 1. Calvary takes on Pensacola Catholic in the championship tomorrow night, at Hammond Stadium.