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Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier and Simon Gagne say offense will come

Linemates Vinny Lecavalier, left, and Simon Gagne have missed 15 and 18 games, respectively, to injuries but say those problems are not contributing  to their lack of offense (a combined five goals and nine assists). Wednesday against the Thrashers, each had four shots on goal.

Associated Press

Linemates Vinny Lecavalier, left, and Simon Gagne have missed 15 and 18 games, respectively, to injuries but say those problems are not contributing to their lack of offense (a combined five goals and nine assists). Wednesday against the Thrashers, each had four shots on goal.

BRANDON — Vinny Lecavalier and Simon Gagne say it is just a matter of time before they chip in more offensively for the Lightning.

Coach Guy Boucher said, "Absolutely, they're going to get their points."

So far, they really haven't.

Lecavalier has three goals and nine points in 15 games. Gagne has two goals and five points and is minus-11 in 13 games. The numbers are even more stark given the players' well-documented abilities and combined $15.25 million salary.

"Of course, that's what I want to do," Lecavalier said Friday at the Ice Sports Forum when asked if he wanted to be more involved offensively. "The chances are there.

"Obviously I want results, but if I play the way I did the last game (Wednesday against the Thrashers), it will come."

Perhaps this is all too harsh.

Lecavalier, 30, has played one game since missing 15 after surgery on the knuckle at the base of his right index finger, and he played the previous 10 games with the painful joint after being hit by a puck Oct. 16 at Florida.

Gagne, 30, has played seven games after missing 18 with a neck injury, and he played the previous six with symptoms building from the Sept. 25 preseason game at Calgary, where he was first hurt.

But Lecavalier said he is not cutting himself any slack.

"No, because I felt good in that first game (back)," he said. "I feel like I didn't miss a beat."

"As long as you're getting chances, that's what you want," Gagne said. "If you don't get chances, that's a problem. We got a lot of chances last game. They're going to go in at some point."

The best medicine for both might be their new line: Lecavalier centering for Gagne on left wing and Sean Bergenheim. Each had four shots in Wednesday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Thrashers. Bergenheim scored, and Boucher said the line was the team's best in the game.

The line seems to have all the elements. Lecavalier and Gagne are finishers, though both have deft passing touches, and Bergenheim has the speed and determination to track the puck, and adds skill of his own.

"It's a line that can create stuff," Boucher said, adding he will give it a chance to mature.

If it does, it will take some pressure off the top line with center Steven Stamkos and wing Marty St. Louis.

"It will mean more jump for everybody," Boucher said. "We'll be able to maintain for 60 minutes what we've been able to do for two periods."

"And that," Gagne said, "will make us dangerous and tough to match against."

What would make it tougher is Lecavalier, who had 92 goals from 2006-08, and Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer, finding their scoring touches, especially Lecavalier, whose goal totals have fallen three straight seasons and who had just 53 the past two combined.

But Lecavalier also has earned praise from Boucher and general manager Steve Yzerman for playing a more complete — read: defensively aware — game.

"I can still play the right way, and I know I can produce," Lecavalier said. "If you look at the last game, I wasn't on the scoreboard. But if I feel like that every night, it will happen."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier and Simon Gagne say offense will come 12/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 9:17pm]
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