BOSTON — Perhaps, coach Rick Tocchet said with heavy sarcasm, he should devise a system in which the Lightning just keeps icing the puck.
Maybe, he said, he will give the bulk of ice time to players who show they are prepared to play.
"The warnings have been given," Tocchet said. "We'll go to boot camp now."
It was a fitting exclamation to Monday night's 5-3 loss to the Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden.
It wasn't that Tampa Bay (6-13-8) lost to the East's best, which won its 10th straight at home. It was the dysfunctional first period in which Boston outshot the Lightning 13-5 and scored three goals in 4 minutes, 2 seconds, the last two in 77 seconds, to take a 3-0 lead at 10:46.
"To me, it's an embarrassment when you have more than three or four individuals not ready to play," Tocchet said. "It's embarrassing right now. It really is."
It was an unsettling day for Tampa Bay, which dropped its eighth straight (0-6-2), as wing Radim Vrbata and center Chris Gratton were put on waivers.
Tocchet said it is no excuse.
"You're a pro. When does that come out as a pro, you being ready?" he said. "Yeah, we had some roster changes and distractions. Still, that doesn't mean you miss your man or don't finish your check or miss your coverage."
It wasn't all gloom.
Tampa Bay outshot Boston 24-11 in the final two periods, 15-4 in the third, and got goals by Adam Hall, Vinny Lecavalier and Paul Szczechura, whose first of his career made it 4-3 with 17.5 seconds left.
P.J. Axelsson's empty-netter with 10 seconds left after a weak clearing attempt by defenseman Paul Ranger was the clincher.
The comeback made the first period even worse.
"The effort," goalie Mike Smith said, "was not great."
"I don't think it's a situation where we're not ready," defenseman Steve Eminger said. "Guys know what to do. …It's just three breakdowns that hurt us."
Whatever the cause, you could see who got some of the blame.
Defenseman Mike Lundin played just 6:38, defenseman Lukas Krajicek 10:33, wing Vinny Prospal 15:45, center Steven Stamkos 12:27.
"Where do you look now? You look for guys who are ready to come to work," Tocchet said. "If there's six of them, as a coaching staff, you take your six and you work with them."
As for the game plan, he said, "Maybe we can devise a system where we play with just eight guys."
That would burn them out, someone said.
"Yeah," Tocchet said, "maybe we could just keep icing it."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.
First—1, Boston, Lucic 7 (Wideman, Kessel), 6:44 (pp). 2, Boston, Kessel 17, 9:29. 3, Boston, Ryder 7 (Hnidy, Hunwick), 10:46. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (holding stick), 2:55; Ranger, TB (slashing), 5:00.
Second—4, Tampa Bay, Hall 2 (Artyukhin, Ranger), 13:06. 5, Boston, Chara 5 (Krejci, Wideman), 18:43 (pp). Penalties—Kobasew, Bos (interference), :45; Artyukhin, TB (hooking), 4:01; Savard, Bos (hooking), 9:25; Downie, TB (roughing), 17:13; Jokinen, TB (holding), 18:01.
Third—6, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 11 (St. Louis, Ranger), 9:27. 7, Tampa Bay, Szczechura 1 (Malik, Meszaros), 19:42. 8, Boston, Axelsson 1 (Bergeron), 19:50 (en). Penalties—Krejci, Bos (hooking), 2:55; Krejci, Bos (interference), 5:38; Malik, TB (interference), 10:21. Missed Penalty Shot—Axelsson, Bos, 9:32 second. Shots—Tampa Bay 5-9-15—29. Boston 13-7-4—24. Power plays—Tampa Bay 0 of 4; Boston 2 of 6. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 5-9-7 (23 shots-19 saves). Boston, Thomas 11-3-3 (29-26). A—16,973 (17,565). T—2:27.