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The Lightning power play has been abysmal in the club's past 11 games.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001
BOSTON -- Fredrik Modin struggled for the right words.
The subject was the Lightning power play, and the left wing was trying to find a new way to say the same ol' thing.
Modin finally decided not to be polite, took a deep breath and said, "The power play s----."
Come to think of it, maybe Modin was being polite. In fact, his characterization might be the nicest thing you can say about the Tampa Bay power play.
The Lightning has 13 power-play goals in its past 38 games. It is 0-for-26 in its past four, and an absurd 3-for-67 in its past 11.
Overall efficiency is 11.4 percent (38-for-333), well below the leaguewide efficiency of 16.4. The only team worse is the expansion Wild, which is operating at 9.2 percent.
Coach John Tortorella and associate coach Craig Ramsay have tried just about everything. They recently disbanded the formal power-play units and inserted whomever was playing well at a given moment.
General manager Rick Dudley even made a trade with the power play in mind, acquiring the big shot of defenseman Adrian Aucoin from the Canucks.
"We sure have the talent and some good people," wing Nils Ekman said. "There's no reason we shouldn't have a good power play."
For tonight's game against the Bruins at the FleetCenter, the formal units will be reunited. The team has done extensive video and on-ice work the past two days, and Tortorella wants to give the units a shot at putting what has been preached into practice.
The first-unit forwards are Modin, Ekman, Vinny Lecavalier and Mike Johnson. The second unit is Brad Richards, Matthew Barnaby, Todd Warriner and Brian Holzinger.
The point men are Aucoin, Andrei Zyuzin, Grant Ledyard and Jassen Cullimore. Pavel Kubina is out with a partially dislocated right kneecap, taking six power-play goals with him.
The power-play shortcomings are not difficult to pinpoint.
Tampa Bay does a terrible job fighting for the puck, which makes it difficult to set up in the offensive zone. It also continues to fail miserably on faceoffs, which gives the puck to an opponent, who knocks it down the ice.
Modin, who has a team-high seven power-play goals, said it all comes down to determination.
"We can look at the numbers and feel sorry for ourselves," he said. "But we have to put that behind us, and when we get a chance, make sure we try to score. We have to make sure we do everything we can to make it happen. If we don't score goals, at least we did the best we can do."
Obvious, right? But Modin said he and his teammates don't always work to their capabilities.
"I look at myself, too," he said. "At times, I haven't done what I should have done. I've lost some battles, but it goes for everybody."
Tortorella knows the drill.
"They think they're a man up and they lose a little bit on intensity," he said. "But there's no reason with this power play that there should be a lack of intensity. It's a privilege to play on the power play."
And the players should be embarrassed when it fails so completely.
Take Saturday's 0-0 tie with the Flyers. The Lightning had a five-on-three advantage for two minutes in the second period. When that expired, it went five-on-four for two minutes more.
The tally: one shot on goal -- one.
"That shouldn't be acceptable," Ekman said. "A five-on-three for two minutes, you should score eight out of 10 times."
"We know what we have to do," Tortorella said. "We know the setup. We just have to get it accomplished."
It's not that difficult, Johnson said. "It's just paying attention to detail."
"It's great to say it," Tortorella said. "Now do it."
WHEN/WHERE: 7; FleetCenter, Boston.
TV/RADIO: Sunshine Network; WDAE-AM 620.
THE LOWDOWN: Lightning D Pavel Kubina (partially dislocated right kneecap) did not make the trip. ... Expect to see Kevin Weekes in goal for Tampa Bay. ... Boston's No. 1 goaltender, Byron Dafoe, hasn't played since he pulled a hamstring Feb. 10 against the Lightning. ... The Bruins are 4-4-0-2 in their past 10 games but 1-3-0-2 in their past six. Two of their past three victories were against the Lightning. ... Tampa Bay has lost two straight and nine of 10. ... Boston's Joe Thornton has seven goals, six assists in his past eight games. ... The Bruins are 15-8-4-3 at home. The Lightning is an NHL-worst 4-24-3-3 on the road and hasn't won away from the Ice Palace since a 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Jan. 10. ... The Lightning hasn't won in Boston since April 1994 (11-0-2) and has lost three straight. ... This is the last of four meetings. The Bruins are 2-0-1 and have outscored the Lightning 13-6. ... Boston leads the series 20-7-6 and is 12-1-3 at home. -- Compiled by Damian Cristodero.