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Boucher expects better from Bolts against Blackhawks

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA, Fla -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher didn't bother to hide his dismay over the effort his team produced over the first two periods Tuesday night en route to a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh.

In response to what Boucher called "lackadaisical play," he put the Lightning through an unusually intense practice session on Wednesday, designed to drive home a point to the players.

"We didn't play the first two periods in Carolina, so we had them play those periods over," Boucher said. "We did specific things that relate to what we didn't do well. The work ethic wasn't there and the competitiveness wasn't there. So, we did the first two periods over. If you count the number of minutes we were on the ice, it was exactly 40 minutes, broken by a three-on-five power play. (Tampa Bay failed to convert on such a power play against the Hurricanes.)

"So, we played the 40 minutes that we didn't the night before."


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As grueling as the practice was, the players may have appreciated the do-over, in light of the alternative.

"In my younger days I probably would have had some garbage cans on the ice and we'd have some guys throwing up," Boucher said.

Friday morning's skate was optional for the Lightning (5-5-2) and only a handful of players were on the ice.

Their opponents Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks (8-2-2), are tied for first in the Western Conference. They took the morning off after arriving in Tampa early in the a.m. after defeating the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout Thursday night in Sunrise.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was expected to select his starting goaltender for Friday's game after talking with Thursday's starter, Corey Crawford. Chicago has had back-to-back games twice before this season and Crawford started both ends of those. If Quenneville decides to rest Crawford, then Ray Emery would get the nod. Emery has had success against the Lightning, going 6-3-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average.

Friday night's game is the only meeting between the Blackhawks and the Lightning during the 2011-12 season, and Boucher expects the Lightning will have all that they can handle.

"They are probably the most menacing team in the offensive zone," Boucher said of the Blackhawks. "I mean, they are everywhere. Their defense doesn't hesitate to jump into the play; the 'D' on the strong-side, the 'D' on the far-side and you try to figure out what they are doing out there, but it's always something different. You can't forecheck their defensemen; they are so quick they turn on a dime. It's very, very difficult to establish a forecheck on that team, so you have to be smart about it and in your own end; if you start running around, you're dead. The key is to remain calm during the storms."

Don't look for either team to have a great advantage on the power play. The Blackhawks are riding a perfect 13-for-13 penalty kill on the road this season, while Tampa Bay's penalty kill has been an equally impressive 14-for-15 through their last six games.
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