Sunday, November 9, 2008

Melrose lays into the Bolts, Team responds with Win

By JC De La Torre

In a week's time, the Tampa Bay Lightning's GM and coach have challenged the players' manhood and grit. After a lackluster first period, Head Coach Barry Melrose laid into the hockey club and the Lightning responded with a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

"It wasn't too bad," goalie Mike Smith told the St. Pete Times, "No players were hurt."

"I called them every name under the sun. I challenged their manhood," Melrose told the paper, "When we play hard, we're an excellent team. That's what I wanted to get through to them. When we play with passion and courage, we're a different group."

Tampa Bay was outshot 18-5 in the first period where Mike Smith did all he could to keep the team in the game. Daniel Briere would find the back of the net late in the period on a 5-on-3 power play goal with 3:40 left in the 1st. The Lightning came roaring back in the 2nd, outshooting the Flyers 12-5 and getting goals from Jussi Jokinen and Vaclav Prospal to take a 2-1 advantage going into the 3rd. Penalties would short circut the new found urgency in the final stanza, as Philadelphia went on three power plays, including another two man advantage, but Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith was up to the task making 13 saves in the final 20 minutes to help the Bolts hold on.
It was apparently the first time Melrose and the coaches got in the face of the players (I stark contrast from the in-your-face style of their former head man, John Tortorella).

"It's amazing," former Flyer and current Tampa Bay left wing Mark Recchi told the St. Pete Times, "Sometimes the guys can do it by themselves, but sometimes you need the coaches to come in and make their point and wake the guys up. Tonight it worked."

Tampa Bay remained 4 points behind the 1st place Carolina Hurricanes in the SE division, improving to 5-4-4, 14 points and 1-1-1 on the current five game road trip.

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