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 recharge through planned days off

Lightning coach Guy Boucher believes in keeping his players away from the rink once in a while in order to keep them fresh for the demands of game time.

Associated Press

Lightning coach Guy Boucher believes in keeping his players away from the rink once in a while in order to keep them fresh for the demands of game time.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Lightning players, with no practice scheduled or even a team meeting, got to relax Sunday.

Some golfed or watched football at the team hotel. Defensemen Victor Hedman and Mattias Ohlund even went to the Bucs game against the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

A day after putting together their best defensive effort of the season in a 3-0 victory over the Coyotes, players were the beneficiary of one of Guy Boucher's basic coaching rules:

Keep your players fresh — "If you ask guys to play a very high-paced game, they have to have the juice to do it," he said — and keep them wanting more.

"When you go to the rink every day, you're not hungry to get there," he added. "It's a routine, and I hate routines. Sometimes you are a slave to a routine, and I don't want that for our team."

So, Boucher is diligent about giving players down time. In five of the past 15 days, they did not have to report to the rink. Against the Thrashers on Oct. 22, the second of back-to-back games, there was no morning workout, nor was there one before Wednesday's game with the Penguins.

The team practices today, but then will head to a go-kart track and a competitive team-building experience much like a previous paintball excursion.

Compare that to last season, when then-coach Rick Tocchet believed a day without practice was like a day without sunshine.

"I don't think you can even count them on one hand," Hedman said of last season's days off.

"It's just a different mentality," center Nate Thompson said. "Every coach is different. We're working hard and going hard, but rest is so important. We're playing so many games in so many nights, and guys are beat up even this early in the season. You need that day to recover to come back feeling fresh."

Days off are not given haphazardly. Boucher spent hours figuring where they best fit in the schedule. He gave the players Thursday off so they could be with their families because Friday began a nine-day, four-game road trip.

Boucher calls off days "active recovery" days because "you can't veg out on the couch."

"You have to do something, move, anything," he added. "Forget watching hockey games, do something else."

The physical benefits are obvious. Tired players rest, and those with dings get a chance to heal. But Boucher said the mental benefits are just as important.

"What I've found is that if you don't give enough days off, you're trying to work hard on something and you go nowhere," he said. "You're there, but you don't progress. Guys are going through the motions. I ask the players for work ethic and enthusiasm. If we're going to have more than the other teams, you've got to recharge the battery."

"You get away from the rink and the next day, you're refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to work," goaltender Mike Smith said. "You're not worn out by doing the same thing over and over and over again."

That said, "If we're not performing well with days off, those will be limited. It's like, I scratch your back and you scratch mine kind of mentality."

As for the whole concept of days off — pardon, active recovery — Smith added. "It's an important part of the game that gets overlooked a lot. So far, it's working."

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

Tampa Bay Lightning recharge through planned days off 10/31/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 31, 2010 8:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

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

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494