To say Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher is somewhat restless over his team’s 1-2-2 start is a slight understatement. He spent the better part of last week addressing nearly every issue plaguing his Lightning:
— First, how the team had to re-learn “the process” and re-dedicate itself to defense.
— Next, eschewing “sophomore psychology.”
— Finally, a lineup change.
Unfortunately for him, nothing’s worked. After scratching Teddy Purcell and Ryan Shannon on Saturday, Boucher and the ‘Ning dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to in-state rival Florida (although they’ll have a chance for revenge tonight in their home opener at the renovated St. Pete Times Forum). It was Tampa’s fourth consecutive loss which, despite Boucher praising his team’s work ethic, probably sparked some more hand-wringing/fingernail-chewing.
But hey, don’t you think maybe Boucher’s been a little too fidgety in addressing Tampa’s woes? The Lightning started the season on their longest road trip of the year — a five-gamer that went through Carolina, Boston, Washington, Long Island and Miami — and lost shutdown defenseman Mattias Ohlund (knee) for a month. Oh, and lest we forget this team overachieved wildly last season to come within one game of the Stanley Cup final. The early-season hangover was pretty predictable.
It’s in times like these you forget Boucher, 40, is the NHL’s third-youngest coach with just two years of pro experience. While he’s a tremendous competitor and Xs/Os guy, he’s also super intense. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun wrote earlier about how Boucher is still evolving as an NHL coach, a demanding individual described as “hard, but fair” and “very honest, but very fair” by two of his players. (Which is code for “I think he hates me,” in case you were wondering.) He doesn’t strike you as a guy that would be okay with any stretch of lackluster or indifferent play…even if it did occur from games one-through-five of an 82-game schedule.