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Tampa Bay Lightning look to rally

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By Josh Yohe
Friday, April 15, 2011

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher held a 60-minute team meeting Thursday before the Lightning practiced at Consol Energy Center.

Revising strategy is common after the first game of a playoff series, but this meeting wasn't confined to Xs and Os. Consider it more of a wake-up call.

"(Game 1) was probably an eye-opener for some of our guys," Boucher said. "The compete level needs to be very high. Pittsburgh is a team that battles hard. (The Penguins) aren't going to give us freebies."

The bruised and battered Lightning took one on the chin Wednesday — right wing Martin St. Louis, for good measure, took Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek's stick to his teeth — and their ability to adjust could determine how the series will unfold.

Tampa Bay turned to its leaders for guidance before yesterday's practice.

"We're still in position to get the split," St. Louis said. "You're always OK with getting that split. It was only one game."

A loss tonight in Game 2 would force the Lightning to win four of five games to advance, a daunting task for a team on which "half of our players have never played in the playoffs," Boucher said.

This wasn't the first time Boucher surprised his team with a meeting. It has become common for the rookie coach to cancel practice and instead gather his team for a conversation. He relies on veterans St. Louis and center Vincent Lecavalier to settle his inexperienced squad.

"This is normal for us," winger Teddy Purcell said. "We stress feedback from a lot of guys. The older guys offered their advice and input. We're playing a great team, and we know it.

"The guys who have been here before said that you can't win a series in one game."

Lecavalier spoke at length about the meeting, and while specifics were not divulged, he stressed the theme was to avoid panicking. He recalled that the Lightning dropped Game 1 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final to Calgary before regrouping and winning the series in seven games.

"I'd say the meeting was both about strategy and (psychological)," Lecavalier said.

With seven Lightning players experiencing the playoffs for the first time, it was natural they would struggle to compose themselves in Game 1.

How it fares tonight could dictate how long Tampa Bay's postseason will last.

"I wouldn't say the coaches were disappointed in the guys," defenseman Eric Brewer said. "It's a seven-game series, and the first game didn't go how we wanted. So we talked about it. We don't feel like we have to make major adjustments. Teams that make major adjustments usually have real issues."

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