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)

With season on the line, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier must meet huge expectations

This is a crucial time for the Lightning. The belief in the front office and among the coaches is there still is hope, though ever so slight, the team can make the playoffs.

If that is indeed the mind-set, it will take a monumental effort to realize. Tampa Bay is 25 points behind Southeast-leading Washington, so forget that. It is 13 points out of the East's final postseason berth, with six teams in the way.

In other words, it is time for a monumental effort from Vinny Lecavalier.

We are still waiting for him to show even last season's form, never mind 2006-07, when he and linemate Marty St. Louis set the league on fire.

Lecavalier leads the team with 16 goals and four winners. But he has just five power-play goals, a part of the game at which the team has faltered all season. His 32 points entering Saturday were tied for 40th in the league and fewer than the assists of Evgeni Malkin (45), Sidney Crosby (35), Marc Savard (35), Joe Thornton (35) and Nicklas Backstrom (33).

And, really, one shootout goal on seven attempts?

Not exactly what Tampa Bay envisioned when it signed Lecavalier, 28, to an 11-year, $85-million contract extension and made him captain.

It is extremely unfair to pick on one player when so much has gone wrong this season. But the expectations for Lecavalier — expectations he created — are huge, and even he admits he has not met them.

Remember the 52 goals and 108 points in 2006-07?

Remember Nov. 14, 2007, when Lecavalier had three goals and five points in a 6-1 win over Carolina? He took over that game, changed it single-handedly. When was the last time we saw something like that out of the Ile Bizard, Quebec, native?

One of the best players in the world? Not this season. Not when coach Rick Tocchet believed he had to publicly reprimand his captain for on-ice body language he thought was detrimental to the psychology of the team.

Lecavalier has battled all season with the effects of offseason shoulder surgery. He says he still has pain, and the joint won't be fully strengthened until summer, when he can concentrate on conditioning.

But when Lecavalier plays with passion, he shows the greatness we remember. He was huge in a 3-1 win over Montreal with the winning goal and an assist. His two goals Thursday against the Capitals happened because he moved his feet and got to the net.

What will he do in the next two weeks with the season on the line?

With season on the line, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier must meet huge expectations 01/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 3:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.

  3. Rays journal: Rookie Jacob Faria continues to show veteran poise

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles threatened in the first inning and the second. They loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning with the top of the order up and seemed poised for a big inning. But those opportunities produced only one run because Rays rookie RHP Jacob Faria kept his composure and got the …

    Jacob Faria goes a career-high 71/3 innings, staying composed when the Orioles threaten.
  4. Rays vs. Orioles, 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field


    Today: vs. Orioles

    12:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

    Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field box office,, surcharge of up to $5 within 5 hours of game time.

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead U.S. soccer


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

    Among some other unmentionables.

    Bruce Arena