Tampa Bay Lightning spends break working on conditioning

Ryan Malone, left, welcomes the second training camp that Rick Tocchet has implemented.

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Ryan Malone, left, welcomes the second training camp that Rick Tocchet has implemented.

TAMPA — Some heaved and cursed as they left the ice Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The second Lightning training camp of the season is apparently more strenuous than the abbreviated first — which might be part of the problem — and coaches are using a four-day break between games to address conditioning and several other issues.

"By this time, you should go through a 40-minute practice and not breathe heavy," interim coach Rick Tocchet said. "We have guys breathing heavy. You're caught between a rock and a hard place because you want to make sure these guys get rest. I would have loved to give a couple guys a day or two days off because they're playing a lot of minutes. Unfortunately, they have to suffer because of bad play by other players."

With Barry Melrose, the Lightning this fall undertook a less physically demanding camp than under former coach John Tortorella then left to train and open the season in Europe. Melrose lasted just 16 games, and the team has struggled to find a footing amid changes, using a league-high 36 players and slumping to last in the NHL with 22 points through Monday.

LW Ryan Malone, who came from Pittsburgh this offseason, welcomed the second camp.

"I wasn't sure how different camps went. We scrimmaged a couple times and then we left, really," he said of the fall. "It wasn't much structure and all the other stuff you're supposed to be learning."

Tocchet said the same players are magnifying team mistakes with individual shortcomings. He'll grind them through split squad drills in the morning and a group session in the afternoon again today.

"Not-smart hockey players or guys who don't care," he said.

Returns: Malone, who has missed five games with an upper-body injury, and C Jeff Halpern, who has not played this season because of reconstructive knee surgery, are expected to play Thursday against Colorado. Malone is tied for third on the team with seven goals. Halpern had 10 goals and 18 points in 19 games after being acquired from Dallas last spring in the Brad Richards deal.

Tampa Bay Lightning spends break working on conditioning 12/15/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 8:32am]

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