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Lightning isn't playing favorites
It's okay if somebody besides Vinny or Marty wants to score.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published April 22, 2007
Devils 5, Lightning 3
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Devils at Lightning
1 Today Ch. 8, 620-AM
Lightning at Devils*
TBA Tuesday Sun Sports, 620-AM
TAMPA - If the Lightning is to survive its East quarterfinal series with the Devils, there is a sense it needs what coach John Tortorella called "a surprise."
That is, a big goal from someone, anyone, other than Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.
On the other hand, given Tampa Bay enters today's Game 6 at the St. Pete Times Forum trailing the best-of-seven series three games to two and is one loss from elimination, perhaps Lecavalier and St. Louis have to give even more.
Or, as left wing Jason Ward said, perhaps the team needs a little bit of both.
"We need two wins," Ward said. "It doesn't matter if we win 1-0 and Vinny scores or we win 4-3 with goals from four people who haven't scored before. We just need to put pucks in the net."
The Lightning all season has bemoaned its lack of balanced scoring, and no team during the regular season had more goals tied up in two players.
The issue has remained hot in the playoffs as Lecavalier, with five goals, and St. Louis, with three, combined for eight of Tampa Bay's 12. It got more scrutiny after a 3-0 loss in Game 5 that upped Tampa Bay's goalless streak to 97:34.
"Something big has to happen from someone you're not expecting it from," Tortorella said. "All teams need that if they're going to progress."
Forget surprises, the Lightning needs goals from players expected to score such as Brad Richards, Vinny Prospal and Eric Perrin, with one each; Ward, Ryan Craig, Ruslan Fedotenko, Dan Boyle and Paul Ranger who have zero. It would take pressure off Lecavalier and St. Louis but would help a wounded power play that has just two goals in 20 chances.
"Absolutely, you feel pressure," St. Louis said. "The more the game means, the more you want to play. But that's not just for me and Vinny. That's for all the guys in the locker room. We know how important we are to the team. But everybody has to play a part."
St. Louis is third among forwards with an average 27:24 of ice time. Lecavalier is fifth at 26:25. Both say the minutes are manageable.
"The more minutes you play the more you're into the game," Lecavalier said. "You just have to be smart with it. The key is to go short shifts."
St. Louis said the key is "communication" with Tortorella: "Sometimes he asks us if we can go. Sometimes we can't. You don't want to go out there and hurt your team."
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said there are no signs of that: "They haven't slowed down at all. Everybody has been saying it but they have some great jump. They're always attacking."
"They're fine," Tortorella said. "You (reporters) are going to continue to talk them into being tired, and you do what you have to do. But these are elite athletes.
"Listen, whether they're tired or not, I'm still going to trot out a tired Vinny Lecavalier and a tired Marty St. Louis because that is what this game is about - your best players being your best players."