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Glory days revisited for Andreychuk

Comfortable with his new role, Dave Andreychuk shows he still can score big goals.

By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published May 9, 2004

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TAMPA - The change could not have been easy. It would be like asking Picasso to paint fences instead of masterpieces. Or asking Bob Dylan to pen a jingle for some hot-dog stand.

It was hockey's version of While You Were Out. Dave Andreychuk left Buffalo as a goal scorer three years ago and by the time he called Tampa Bay home he was a third-line checker.

Andreychuk will go into the Hall of Fame someday for all the goals (686) he has piled up in his 22-year career. But these days, the Lightning center is a different player. He's asked to do the dirty work, the little things that don't get you on SportsCenter: win faceoffs, play defense, check. Things that don't draw attention, but do win games.

Andreychuk did those small things Saturday, and then poured a little gravy over it with his first goal of the postseason - the critical first goal of the game.

Not that Andreychuk was holding his breath.

"When you're winning, you're not feeling too much pressure, I guess," Andreychuk said. "But, obviously, I still have to contribute. ... For me, I have to try to get chances. First and foremost, I have to try to keep the puck out of our own end, but it is nice to contribute offensively."

Scoring, of course, is hardly a new concept for Andreychuk. He scored 21 goals during the regular season, the 19th time he reached 20. But since the playoffs started, Andreychuk has hunkered down. He has moved "goal scoring" down on the list of his job requirements and concentrated on all the little things.

"He scores a huge goal for us," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "But he did some things that I bet half the people here didn't even realize he did in that game as far as the small things."

Andreychuk lost 11 faceoffs, most early. But he rebounded to win nine, many of those in the defensive zone. He played solid defense against Philadelphia's top offensive players, he might have been the team's most physical forward and, this is the key, he wasn't on the ice for the Flyers' goal. He played his typical game. Well, his typical game of the past three seasons.

"I have to do what I have to do to help this team win," Andreychuk said. "It's kind of a new challenge."

A challenge he accepted the moment he agreed to come to the Lightning.

"Scorers, they want to keep scoring," Tortorella said.

But not Andreychuk. He accepted his new role on the ice. Off the ice, he bridged the gap in the locker room between Tortorella and the players, and gave pats on the back and kicks in the rear to young Lightning players still learning how to play the game.

And, after all his work is done in the locker room, in the faceoff circle and in the defensive zone, he still has the energy and knack for scoring big goals. Like Saturday.

He took a pass from Fredrik Modin after a turnover and roofed the puck from just a few feet away - no easy task from that point - over Flyers goalie Robert Esche.

"A great goal by Andy," Lightning forward Fredrik Modin said.

"That's his kind of goal," Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said.

And his kind of game.

When it was over, Tortorella just smiled and said, "So he continues."

[Last modified May 9, 2004, 01:41:11]

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