WINNIPEG -- Guy Boucher managed to survive a game-day without any dents to his roster.
Prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, Boucher's club had seen three players traded on the day of their previous three games over a five-day span. Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie all departed in separate trades, and none of the trio yielded a roster player in return.
For a club that began the night only five points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and owning games in-hand, the losses hurt in the short-term. Those moves, coupled with captain Vincent Lecavalier's upper-body injury that will sideline him into March and Marc-Andre Bergeron's ongoing injury woes, left the Lightning roster thin for their crucial meeting with the Jets. Tampa Bay's second line of Ryan Malone, Nate Thompson and Adam Hall had combined for just 18 goals this season prior to facing the Jets.
The personnel losses left the scoring burden squarely on the shoulders on the Martin St. Louis-Steven Stamkos-Teddy Purcell first line, allowing Winnipeg to key on that trio throughout the contest until they finally broke loose late in the third period when the Jets already owned a 4-0 lead.
"Well, obviously, depth is huge in this League," Boucher said. "If [Lecavalier is] here tonight, we would certainly have two lines of guys who can score goals."
Adjusting to the changes has been a challenge, Boucher acknowledged.
"It's been tough for some of the players to manage it, but whether this year or last year, we have shown a lot of character," Boucher said. "We've had injuries all year. We've basically never played with our full lineup and it keeps on going. We've been adjusting for a while now."
While some clubs would bristle at losing roster players while fully engaged in a playoff battle, Boucher insists that Tampa Bay management has the support of the Lightning dressing room.
"The thing is that I'm the first guy that trusts (general manager) Steve Yzerman and the plan that he is putting forth, and the players that we have got all trust in him," he said. "In the long run, we know that it's going to be a plan that is going to take us closer to what we want to do."