Make us your home page

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's Mattias Ohlund says he has room to improve

TAMPA — There is a lot to like about his first season with the Lightning, Mattias Ohlund said.

The kids made a smooth transition after leaving their friends in Vancouver, and they don't complain about going to school in shorts and T-shirts. The house has a pool, something not standard issue in Canada's southwest corner.

And being part of a playoff race? Can't beat that.

Still, something is missing, the defenseman said: "Hockey-wise, I obviously have not had a good year so far. I've had my moments where I've felt pretty good, but I don't think it's been a great year."

Quite an admission from Tampa Bay's marquee free agent acquisition, who last summer, after spending his entire 11-year NHL career with the Canucks, signed a seven-year, $25.25 million contract.

Funny thing, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Defensive partner Mike Lundin couldn't say enough about how "responsible and reliable" Ohlund is on the ice. Rookie defenseman Victor Hedman said his fellow Swede has been "outstanding" guiding him through the ins and outs of his first North American season.

And coach Rick Tocchet said adding Ohlund brought instant "credibility" to a rebuilding blue line.

"We had to get someone in here quickly to stabilize everything, and we accomplished that," Tocchet said.

"He's a pro. He prepares himself, and he's an even-keel guy. He doesn't get too excited when we win and doesn't get too low when we lose. It's a calming influence."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder, who averages a team-best 23:24 of ice time, also is a ferocious hitter. Just ask Toronto's Phil Kessel.

For Ohlund, 33, the trouble is on offense. With zero goals and 10 assists, this could end up his worst offensive season. And he never had a year without a goal.

Part of it is Ohlund is not on the power play, where he was often in Vancouver. Ohlund said he is "fine" with how he is being used — hard to argue with slap shots of Kurtis Foster and Andrej Meszaros in the high slot — and the onus is on him to "find a way to be more productive."

What better time than tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum when he faces his former Canucks teammates for the first time.

"I'm excited about it. It should be fun," Ohlund said. "I played with some of those guys for a long time. But once the puck drops, we need the two points, so that's my main concern."

Really, it probably will be the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, the Canucks' top two in points who present varied problems Lundin and Ohlund seem prepared to handle.

Lundin and Ohlund complement each other well.

Lundin's quickness compensates for Ohlund's admittedly diminishing foot speed, so he can challenge the Sedins in open ice.

Ohlund, who will play for Sweden in the Olympics, is better in tight spaces where he can use his strength and positioning; good attributes against the Sedins, who also like to cycle.

Even so, Ohlund said controlling the Sedins is a five-man game. Same on offense, he said. Everyone must chip in, including himself.

"Can he play better in certain situations? Yeah, some puck-handling, offensively," Tocchet said.

"Remember, we're playing him against the top guys all the time. We're not looking for him to be Paul Coffey out there instead of being Mattias Ohlund, and that's being a solid guy back there."

Parrish on waivers: Norfolk's Mark Parrish is on waivers, indicating Tampa Bay wants to sign the right wing to a minor-league or two-way contract. Parrish, 33, a former NHL All-Star, is on his second tryout contract with the AHL Admirals. He has 12 goals and 25 points in 42 games. We will know at noon today if he clears.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Tampa Bay Lightning's Mattias Ohlund says he has room to improve 02/08/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 1:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Starting at top: O.J. Howard becomes first Bucs rookie to sign


    The Bucs have begun the process of signing their rookie draft picks and they started at the top.

    Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has signed a four-year contract with a fifth-year club option with the Bucs.
  2. Hey, somebody really ought to write about this Aaron Judge guy


    He can catch, too.

    It's no tall tale.

    Aaron Judge, The Amazing Colossal Man, has come and gone, but not before he stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge robbed Evan Longoria of an RBI double and helped …

    Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.
  3. FSU, Gators, USF and Miami all in Athlon preseason top 25


    The college football preseason magazines are trickling in, as our Joey Knight wrote earlier.

  4. Bucs' Jameis Winston rising in fantasy football rankings


    We're still probably three months away from most fantasy football drafts, but it's not too early to appreciate that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has taken a major step up in the rankings entering his third NFL season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is ranking much higher in fantasy football rankings entering his third NFL season.
  5. A new look at the top of women's tennis: It's wide open


    ROME — Asked Sunday if she believed, as the oddsmakers do, that she is the French Open favorite, Simona Halep dissented.