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's newest approach to solving shootout woes brings a win

TAMPA — In trying to break out of its shootout slump, the Lightning tried a little bit of everything.

The players practiced it. They tried different shooters. They even tried "rally caps," wearing their helmets backward on the bench.

But in finally coming through Thursday night with a 4-3 shootout win over the Wild, snapping an 0-for-14 skid by its shooters, the Lightning used a strategy that center Steven Stamkos said it has been working on and hopes will work in the future, too:

The shooters keeping their mind — and their shooting options — open.

Thursday, instead of skating toward the goalie with a set plan on making a specific move, Stamkos positioned his stick a certain way, leaving open the possibility of shooting or dekeing (which he did, and scored the winner), depending on what the Wild's Niklas Backstrom did.

Coach Rick Tocchet and assistant Adam Oates have been preaching that method recently, and Tocchet pulled Stamkos aside before his shootout attempt Thursday to give one of the game's best young stars a reminder of how one of the best players of all time attacked breakaways.

"I stopped (Stamkos) before he said what he was going to do," Tocchet said. "I said, 'You're going to do what Mario Lemieux did. He either went top shelf, through the legs or deked. … And (Stamkos) is such an instinct player, he made obviously a terrific move."

Stamkos said he had been working on the different approach in practice, one where the goalie "doesn't really have a read off your stick." But as Oates, one of the game's greatest passers, said, keeping an open mind isn't as easy at it sounds.

"In the heat of the moment, it's a little more magnified, you're a little more nervous, you're coming in, and the ice is garbage," Oates said. "The puck starts bobbling on you. … It's not that easy to keep the puck controlled and keep your nerves controlled."

But Oates explained how it's important for a player not to be set in his ways.

"Let's say you're going to deke the goalie," he said. "And then the goalie is so far back in the net, you're going to have to shoot it. But if you have a one-track mind, you're not going to be free to move."

Captain Vinny Lecavalier, who scored the Lightning's first goal in Thursday's shootout, also altered his approach a bit, skating in with more speed before shooting between the legs of Backstrom.

Though Lecavalier said "the whole time I knew what I was going to do," he added, "you do have to change it up sometimes. You can't use the same move every time."

Lecavalier said winning its first shootout in five tries this season doesn't guarantee the Lightning will have the same result going forward, but he acknowledged it's a confidence booster.

Said Stamkos, "It's big now that we got the monkey off our back in the shootouts. We scored a couple goals, the goaltenders have been great in them lately, it's been great. Next time we get in one, we know we can win."

So, no more rally caps?

"No," Stamkos said, smiling. "We got rid of those."

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

Tampa Bay Lightning's newest approach to solving shootout woes brings a win 11/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2009 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kevin Kiermaier: Return to action Thursday 'didn't set the world on fire'

    The Heater

    Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier's return from the hip injury that sidelined him since June 8 could have gone better Thursday in Port Charlotte. He broke two bats and went hitless in two at bats while playing for the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.

    Kevin Kiermaier takes cuts in the cage during batting practice before the game between the Rays and Texas Rangers Saturday at Tropicana Field. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. What you need to know about Bucs training camp

    Bucs

    Bucs training camp is here.

    This morning was the first of 13 practices that are free and open to the general public, so we have all the details to answer your questions about where and when and so on.

    Dirk Koetter is nothing if not precise, with practices starting at 8:45 a.m. and running until 10:27. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Fennelly: It's high time for Bucs to take Tampa Bay back

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Welcome to the proving ground.

    Bucs training camp begins today.

    Hard Knocks and flop sweat.

    Work and more work.

    "We have a lot to prove,'' wide receiver Mike Evans (13) says. "We're good on paper, but we've got to do it." [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. HomeTeam 100: Players 1-10

    Footballpreps

    When he's not holding things down on the O-line, Nicholas Petit-Frere is holding his own in the classroom with a 3.7 grade-point average. (Andres Leiva, Times)
  5. HomeTeam 100: Football's a slam dunk for Nicholas Petit-Frere

    Footballpreps

    Berkeley Prep senior Nicholas Petit-Frere is one of the nation's most coveted offensive tackle recruits in the class of 2018. (Andres Leiva, Times)