tampabay.com

Power play doesn't worry coach

By TOM JONES
Published October 14, 2005


TAMPA - Coach John Tortorella can read. He knows the Lightning power play, despite a slew of offensive stars, was 2-for-28 entering Thursday night's game against the Sabres. And he also knows that 2-for-28 isn't all that great.

"But sometimes you can filter those numbers any way you want," Tortorella said.

For example, 10 seconds into a power play, a team commits a penalty. Suddenly, that team is 0-for-1 even though the power play lasted only 10 seconds.

But Tortorella isn't ignoring the numbers. He knows the power play is struggling, but he prefers not to do too much for fear of making matters worse.

"I think it puts your power play even more in a jam when you do too much work on it," Tortorella said. "The whole thing with the power play is gaining control of the puck. That's one of our biggest problems right now. ... Once you gain control, it's up to the players to use their creativity and take what the penalty-killers give you."

Percentages and numbers mean little to Tortorella. He doesn't care if the Lightning goes 1-for-50 on the power play as long as that one is a big goal and key moment in the game.

"That's all we concern ourselves with," Tortorella said. "We're aware when our power play is not going good, but you can't get wrapped up in the percentages. We're working on it, but you have to be careful. ... Sometimes you have to make some subtle points of what you're trying to get across and then move on."

ANOTHER START: John Grahame started his fifth straight game in goal for the Lightning. That meant Sean Burke sat for the fifth straight game.

"All you can do is to battle and keep working hard," Burke said. "It's not ideal, but you have to get yourself prepared. The time I do get a chance to go out and play, nobody is going to care that I haven't (played). The score is what everybody is going to look at. ... Wins and losses are the only things that matter."

ONE TOO MANY: The Sabres are carrying three goalies, but Ryan Miller has started all five games. They would like to clear room on their roster to activate center Adam Mair, who is just about 100 percent after a groin strain.

The problem is the Sabres can't send any of their goalies to the minors without them clearing waivers. And it's likely another team would claim whoever the Sabres sent down.

For that reason, Mika Noronen, who has been scratched every game this season, is on the trading block. The Lightning could use a goalie such as Noronen to stock the minors, but the problem is the Lightning would then have to pass Noronen through waivers, too. If it tried and he was claimed, the Lightning would be on the hook for a portion of his salary and it would go against its salary cap.

Don't be surprised if Lightning division-rival Atlanta makes a move for Noronen.

MISCELLANY: Defenseman Timo Helbling picked up his first NHL point when he assisted on Vinny Lecavalier's second-period goal. ... Left wing Ruslan Fedotenko was struck on the left ankle with a puck in the second period and played sparingly the rest of the game. He will be re-evaluated today.