Tampa Bay Lightning seeks to create a 'bubble'

TAMPA — In an attempt to narrow his team's focus for tonight's Game 6, Lightning coach Guy Boucher gave players an option of staying in a downtown hotel Sunday night, and some did.

While it's not a typical routine, Tampa Bay did it during the 2004 Stanley Cup run, and veteran RW Marty St. Louis has stayed in a hotel before home games during this series.

"Bubble hockey I call it," Boucher said. "It's just like those bubble hockey (games). You have the window on top. Anything outside can't affect our game. That's the way we're approaching it. It's not that we don't like our fans. We love our fans. They were terrific the last two games. But it's important now that the calm in our task has to be there.

"If you look at the two games here that we played, we started very nervous. We want to do well, but we want to do too much. We've got to calm it down."

C Steven Stamkos said the team was too eager to make a big play in its first two home games (both losses) and strayed from the structure that made it so successful. He acknowledged it was partly a product of not handling the Game 2 victory well, a lesson the Lightning says it has learned.

"I don't want to say we were a little cocky. But we felt a little comfortable after Game 2 that our job was done; that we'll win the next two games at home," RW Simon Gagne said. "But that's not the way it goes."

Gagne said it was a different feeling staying in a hotel Sunday but believed it could help. After all, the road team has won four of the five games this series.

"We're going to try to make that happen, like we're on the road," Gagne said. "I think you're going to see a better team, more prepared and maybe (more) understanding of what's going on and how the playoffs have to be played."

COMING THROUGH: Boucher says Gagne has always been a "clutch player," so he wasn't surprised the veteran came up with two goals in Game 5.

"That's the best time to play," Gagne said of the postseason, during which he has two goals and four assists. "It's fun. I like it.

"You don't need too much motivation to come to the rink and play. You play for one thing. It's the Stanley Cup. When you go to overtime and you could be the difference, I like to be that guy."

IN AND OUT: D Mike Lundin logged just 9 minutes, 48 seconds in Game 5. Boucher said it had more to do with how well D Marc-Andre Bergeron performed in his first playoff action.

"(Bergeron has) brought a better transition than we had the previous game," Boucher said. "He's taking shots right away in the offensive zone. He was terrific on the power play because he's healthy now. He gave us what we were expecting when we brought him in."

Like Game 5, the Lightning is likely to go with seven defensemen with Randy Jones, who sat out the first five games, in the mix.

NUMBERS GAME: Tampa Bay is tied with Anaheim for first on the power play during the playoffs (36.4 percent) and second behind Montreal on the penalty kill (96 percent). … St. Louis is tied for the league lead in points (eight) as well as points on the power play (five).

MISCELLANY: C Dana Tyrell (lower-body maintenance) and LW Ryan Malone (rest) did not participate in Sunday's practice. … With AHL Norfolk's season over, the Lightning recalled forwards Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones and G Dustin Tokarski.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning seeks to create a 'bubble' 04/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2011 12:32pm]

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