Tampa Bay Lightning
Boucher might tweak Lightning's shootout lineup
TAMPA - The Lightning haven't practiced penalty shots very often because, with their heavy game schedule, they haven't practiced very often. But after taking a 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, they worked on them at the end of practice Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum. Coach Guy Boucher split players into teams wearing black or white jerseys and staged a competition after which the losers had to do 40 push-ups. Goalies Dan Ellis and Mike Smith each participated. Forwards Dana Tyrell, Dominic Moore and Teddy Purcell and defensemen Pavel Kubina scored.Against Florida, Teddy Purcell, Steven Stamkos, Sean Bergenheim and Marty St. Louis came up empty against goalie Tomas Voukon. "The same guys go out there and now, they've got no pressure, they're all relaxed, and they're having fun at it," Boucher said. "When you go in there in front of thousands of people, your legs start shaking, and you're afraid. What happens is, instead of making a move, you just, plop, shoot. You bail out." Boucher, whose team plays at Toronto on Tuesday night, said the Lightning will address penalty shots by working on the mental component of a one-on-one competition and by reevaluating who gets sent out to take them. Saturday's shootout was their first of the year. "Once you get into a game, if you're afraid to make a mistake, you're going to make one," he said. "You've got to imagine it right. It's a mental process we're going to have to help with. "The reality is, everybody is expecting Marty to go. But Marty hasn't been good at it for the last three or four years. He knows that. He used to be good at it, so we're trying to improve that. Stammer has been missing it, too. So I know they're big names, but maybe the next time we'll look at some other guys. Not because those guys are no good, but some guys might be specialists. Purcell is a specialist. He's the best on the team. We threw him out there and it didn't' work out." It sounded like a defenseman - Kubina? - might get a shot next time. "With the shootout, very few guys can go out and do that well," Boucher said. "You want the guy who's like, 'let's go; I want in,' and you'd be surprised who that might be. Like last year, my Hamilton team was bad until I listened to my assistants and said, 'send a defensemen out.' And at Christmas time I got fed up with the other top guys, so I sent a defenseman out, and we won, like, almost all of them until the end of the year." Also from the morning practice: Left wing Simon Gagne practiced without a no-contact jersey and said he felt "maybe the best" he has since before suffering a neck strain Oct. 21. He made the trip to Toronto but indicated he would like to get at least one more skate and practice in before playing in a game. "(Practicing Monday) is one step closer to getting comfortable on the ice," Gagne said. "Now, to go on the road, it's going to make me more into the game, I think that's a good plan. We'll see what's going to happen this week. You never know, I might play a game. So it's one good day today, and day by day, I just kind of get more comfortable." Boucher said Ellis will be in goal against Toronto.