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Lecavalier owns up to slump

Vinny Lecavalier has looked at the stats and at video and has come to a conclusion.

"I know I'm not playing my best right now," he said. "I know I'm not producing."

With five goals in 33 games entering Wednesday's with the Canucks, the Lightning center is stating the obvious. But it is the first time he has acknowledged it so forcefully.

"It is frustrating," Lecavalier said. "I need the end result. I need to see the net again and shoot it to the right spot. I know I can do a lot better."

Lecavalier was tied for third on the team with 13 goals but had just 11 assists (eight in those 33 games) and was a minus-2.

He said trying to break his slump has taken him out of his game and created bad habits such as looking for an extra pass instead of charging the net and shooting.

Many times that extra pass went awry or was intercepted. Lecavalier said extra video work with the coaching staff has helped him recognize his deficiencies.

"I've got to do a little something extra," he said. "Instead of passing, I have to shoot. I have to skate more in the neutral zone."

Coach John Tortorella praised Lecavalier's critique.

"You have to be honest with yourself as a player to understand if there are problems with your game," he said. "So that's a good sign because some players don't want to get involved in that. They think they're going to play themselves out of it."

Lecavalier made what Tortorella called "a hell of a play" Monday against the Avalanche, assisting on Ruslan Fedotenko's goal after physically beating Adam Foote in the slot.

"We just don't want Vinny worrying about scoring goals," Tortorella said. "It's his whole game. Vinny is beginning to make strides in that way."

"It's just a matter of me doing different things," Lecavalier said. "I believe in myself."

WORLD CUP DREAMS: Lecavalier said he hopes to get an invitation to play for Canada in next summer's World Cup. He knows the second half of the season is key.

"I know they're going to be watching how I can get out of it and how determined I am," Lecavalier said.

A LONG STRANGE TRIP: Not that anyone is complaining, but playing the Canucks Wednesday and the Oilers today after Monday's home game and a seven-hour flight Tuesday hardly seems fair.

"Every team goes through it," Tortorella said. "We're not crazy about jumping a couple of time zones just in one day and playing a game. You usually get a couple. But that's all part of the NHL schedule."

A HOMECOMING (SORT OF): Defenseman Brad Lukowich grew up in Cranbrook, British Columbia, about 500 miles east of Vancouver. Lukowich said the Canucks were his team.

"In that sense, yeah, it's a big deal to get to play them," he said. "But I wish they were wearing their (former) big V jerseys. That'd be a lot more cool."

I WANT MY MTV: Defenseman Dan Boyle and left wing Chris Dingman taped a trivia game show for MTV Canada. Boyle said it was "pretty cool" to be asked questions by the notorious rap group 2 Live Crew.

Such as:

What current NHL player taught kindergarten? (Teemu Selanne.)

What was the original name of the Stanley Cup? (Dominion Challenge Cup.)

Neither player answered correctly. Still, Boyle said of the show scheduled for Monday, "I want to see it. I asked them to give us a copy. Hopefully we have a way of getting it."

ODDS AND ENDS: All-Star reserves will be announced today. No Lightning player is expected to be named. Right wing Martin St. Louis is a starter. Russian prospect Alexander Polushin is out after knee surgery. Head scout Jake Goertzen said he is expected to play next season. Canucks and former Lightning goalie Dan Cloutier said he and long-time girlfriend Nikki Alexander will be married July 16. Center Alexander Svitov, right wing Andre Roy and defenseman Darren Rumble were scratched.

_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

Up next:YACHTING

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