Lightning defenseman stays the course, breaks a drought and draws praise from his coach.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published January 25, 2004
CALGARY - There was a time when a 21-game stretch without a goal would have driven Pavel Kubina crazy.
But the Lightning defenseman, at 26, apparently has matured. And his focus has broadened.
"I was trying to play good defensively during that streak," Kubina said before Saturday's game with the Flames. "I wasn't getting anything done offensively, so I was trying to get the job done defensively."
Funny how one thing leads to another.
Kubina got his 100th career assist during Wednesday's overtime loss to the Canucks and broke his goal drought with a tally during Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Oilers.
It led Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella to say Kubina, with eight goals (three off his career high) and seven assists, is playing the best two-way hockey of his career.
"He doesn't get down when he makes mistakes," Tortorella said. "He's able to let it go and foundation himself and get right back to his game. That's mental maturity. You never know when that kicks in but we have seen it happen this year."
Kubina's development took a huge step during last season's playoffs when he was a major reason Washington's Jaromir Jagr disappeared during the East quarterfinals.
Still, there is nothing like a goal.
"As an offensive defenseman, that always makes you feel better about yourself," he said. "It's important to me to get something done offensively."