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Tampa Bay Lightning seeks shootout solutions

The Lightning is straying into the embarrassing when it comes to shootouts, and no one seems to have an answer.

After Friday night's loss to the Avalanche in which Stephane Veilleux, Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay failed to score, shooters are 2-for-22 in the game-ending gimmick.

TWO-FOR-22. And the goals came in one game against the Wild, the only one of seven shootouts Tampa Bay has won. Needless to say, its 9.1 shooting percentage entered Saturday as the league's worst — by a lot. The next-worst was the 17.1 percent (6-for-35) of the Stars.

"I don't know what to say," Lecavalier said.

"It is," coach Rick Tocchet said, "mind-boggling."

Tocchet has tried just about everything. He has used his best shooters and mixed it up. Nine shooters have given it a go. Veilleux got his first shootout attempt against Colorado because, Tocchet said, "We had a little contest (Friday), and the past couple of days, and he didn't miss. You try to go with the hot hand."

Asked whether it would be better to designate three players as regulars to perhaps create an urgent mind-set, Tocchet shrugged. "If you've looked, Vinny (1-for-6) has probably taken almost every one. Marty (St. Louis, 0-for-2) has taken his fair share, and (so has) Alex (0-for-4) … so I don't know if that's the answer."

At Friday's postgame media gathering, we thought we had it figured out: use goaltender Mike Smith. We know he can shoot. And because the shootout has no resemblance to the real game, why not stir it up a bit more.

Alas, Mike Murphy, the NHL's head of hockey operations, dashed the plan, pointing out that before games, players are registered on lineup sheets as goaltenders or skaters, and those are the positions they must play.

On top of that, rule 28.7 prohibits goalies from playing the puck past the center red line.

Smith sounded disappointed. "It would be fun. It'd be something to see, wouldn't it? There would be a lot of pressure on the other goalie. What if I scored? The other goalie would say, 'A goalie just scored on me. I have to quit.' "

Tampa Bay Lightning seeks shootout solutions 12/12/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 12, 2009 7:47pm]
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