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Ludzik wants Lightning to provide a little punch

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Coach Steve Ludzik told the Lightning he wants to see more hitting -- on the forecheck to create turnovers and scoring chances and in the defensive zone to disrupt the opponent's attack.

"I don't care if you're 150 or 160 pounds," Ludzik said before Tuesday night's game against the Hurricanes at the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena, "you have to be hammering bodies."

Tampa Bay doesn't take the body often, partly because it spends so much time in its end, where hitting can knock a player out of the play.

If a body is taken correctly and smartly, however, the upside is huge. First and foremost, defenseman Ben Clymer said, a player can eliminate an opponent from a play. And if a player knows he's going to be hit, he may rush his pass and make a poor one.

"Hit and contain," Clymer said. "With every hit, you have to finish and take guys out of the play."

Tampa Bay has been without a banger since Gordie Dwyer got a 23-game suspension for leaving the penalty box during a preseason game. He can return Nov. 27.

"You would think the other guys would step up and take over the role," Ludzik said.

JACKPOT: Forward Brian Holzinger knows the perks that come with playing on Vinny Lecavalier's line. He likely will get more ice time and see the puck more. But there is a downside.

"Because of the extra attention the opposition puts on him, that means there will be extra attention on us," he said.

Still, "it's a chance to shine," he said. "Vinny is a guy who's not only going to score but allow us opportunities to score."

PERCEPTIONS: Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said the Lightning's struggles appear worse than they are because of some lopsided loses.

"I think that's the growing pains a franchise has to go through," he said.

He also said it's unfair to concentrate only on what the Lightning is doing wrong because "the other team is getting paid, too."

"With Tampa Bay, I still think their best hockey is ahead of them," Maurice said. "They showed a lot of character getting whipped by the Devils and coming back and beating the Rangers."

ODDS AND ENDS: Forward Martin St. Louis and defenseman Craig Millar were healthy scratches. ... Goaltender Dan Cloutier (left biceps tendinitis) and forward Stan Drulia (broken left hand) are day-to-day. ... The Hurricanes were without defenseman Kevin Hatcher (bruised hand).

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