Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Purcell hopes seasonal goal drought over

TORONTO — Teddy Purcell admitted he doesn't know how to explain it, but every season he seems to go through it — a goal drought, a big one, and this year's lasted 13 games.

Goal droughts aren't unusual in the NHL.

"Every guy goes through them, except 'Stammer,' maybe," Purcell said of linemate Steven Stamkos, the NHL goals leader entering Tuesday.

But with Purcell, they always seem to get in the way of what were expected to be breakout seasons for a player Stamkos said "has one of the best skill sets I've ever seen in the entire league."

That is why the past two games are so noteworthy.

Purcell broke his drought with goals in each, including the winner Monday against the Flyers. And with captain Vinny Lecavalier out with what is believed a fractured left foot and Tampa Bay still pushing for a playoff spot, Purcell seems to be heating up when needed most.

That's just what general manager Steve Yzerman wanted to see when he signed Purcell to a three-year, $13.5 million contract extension through 2015-16.

"When I got that extension, I talked to Steve, and he said, 'You're going to be counted on and leaned on more,' " Purcell said. "I want to take that step, personally, as a player and be a go-to guy night in and night out."

Purcell, 27, has the tools, particularly a wrist shot considered Tampa Bay's best. Coach Guy Boucher even has called Purcell, with six goals and 24 points in 29 games, "the most skilled player on the team."

"In terms of pure skill," Boucher said, "he is unbelievable."

The droughts, though, have been just as significant.

Purcell had just two goals in a 25-game stretch in 2010-11. He had a 16-game stretch without a goal last season.

Even so, in 2010-11 Purcell had 17 regular-season goals and six in 18 playoff games. Last season he had career bests of 24 goals, 41 assists and 65 points.

No wonder so much is expected of him.

The feast-or-famine narrative isn't difficult for Boucher to figure out. When Purcell doesn't move his feet, battle for pucks and position, and get to the net, he falls into something called "thinking and gliding mode," though Purcell said it is more just being "uncomfortable with the puck" and "rushing plays."

He also is unselfish to a fault, passing first, and his 49 shots entered Tuesday tied for 178th in the league.

The key, Boucher said, is "getting him into a skating mode, a battling mode."

"He always wants me to battle more," said Purcell, 6 feet 3, 203 pounds. "We don't even have to have a lot of talks anymore. Whenever I'm not playing my game, all he has to say is those two words. It's pretty straightforward what he wants from me."

You could see it the past two games. Purcell was aggressive scoring on a breakaway Saturday against the Hurricanes. And by going to the net against the Flyers, he was in position to deflect in Keith Aulie's point shot.

It's a process the Lightning hopes continues tonight against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

"You just have to battle through it," Purcell said of the droughts. "You can't get down and feel sorry for yourself. It's a tough league, and it's a long season. Those things are going to happen. I just hope it doesn't happen anymore."

Comments
Could Detroit’s Mike Green be next domino to fall at deadline?

Could Detroit’s Mike Green be next domino to fall at deadline?

The Red Wings have started wheeling and dealing, shipping goalie Petr Mrazek to the Flyers for a package of conditional draft picks.That has shifted focus to a potential Lightning target, Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, who is expected to be moved b...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Published: 02/19/18
Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

Better ‘D’ starts at home with Lightning

TAMPA – The Lightning still might land that top tier defenseman it certainly needs by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. But if that player was wearing a Tampa Bay sweater Saturday, would the outcome against the Devils have been any different?The Ligh...
Published: 02/19/18
Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Rumor mill: What Lightning might do at trade deadline

Reports and rumors involving the Lightning leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26:Feb. 17A smaller move could pay big dividendsIf you look at the history of recent Stanley Cup champions, their pivotal moves were subtle, not splashy, the Time...
Published: 02/19/18
Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils’ Wood gets 2 games for boarding Namestnikov

Devils forward Miles Wood was suspended two games without pay for his boarding penalty Saturday night against Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov during the second period of the Devils 4-3 victory.The hit knocked Namestnikov into the boards ...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18
Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

Flashy trades not always the smartest moves

TAMPA — When it comes to the trade deadline, everyone wants the big names. They dream of blockbusters.Lightning fans would love Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson or Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Maybe even Rangers wing Rick Nash.But if you ...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

Dotchin working on ‘inconsistencies’

TAMPA — Lightning D Jake Dotchin was scratched Saturday against the Devils, making it the fifth time in six games that he did not play."Obviously the playing time is down a bit," Dotchin said after the morning skate. "I just got to keep working...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

Winter Olympics: Americans had brawn. Russians had more goals.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It was a game for Cold War nostalgia and present-day geopolitical angst, for feisty, post-whistle scraps in the corners and for cheap jokes on Twitter. It was a game drenched in history at the start and simmering with ill fee...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

Emphasis on ‘D’ continues as Lightning face Devils

The emphasis was on defense during Friday's practice and today's morning skate as the Lightning look to reduce not only the number of shots on goal allowed but also scoring chances. It allowed 39 in Thursday's win against the Red Wings and 33 in Thu...
Published: 02/17/18
Lightning falls to Devils

Lightning falls to Devils

TAMPA — The Lightning took enough shots to win Saturday’s game against the Devils. It scored enough goals to win, too. Problem was, the Lightning made enough mistakes to lose."There were a lot of positives," captain Steven Stamkos said, "but they sco...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18