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Yzerman: We’re not shocked where we are

Jan 3, 2012, 8:29 AM EDT

Steve Yzerman Getty Images

Steve Yzerman is the kind of guy you’d describe as “unflappable.” Nothing seemed to rattle him as a player and the same can be said of him as a general manager.

With the Lightning having a poor season after one that saw them nearly make the Stanley Cup finals would be disturbing for a lot of people. Not Yzerman however, as he tells Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun that the Lightning’s struggles this season haven’t caught him off guard.

“We’re not shocked by where we are,” Yzerman said in a telephone call from Calgary. “I’m not caught off guard by this. We’re not surprised at all. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I think going in to the year, we knew this would be a challenge for everybody, our coaching staff, our players, the whole organization.”

Having the challenges come from poor goaltending, defensive injuries, and offensive struggles all at once, however, makes Yzerman’s job that much more tricky. The struggles Dwayne Roloson has had in goal makes finding a long term solution there a priority, but the health of Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman also gives coach Guy Boucher a lot of problems.

At least there’s always Steve Stamkos.

  1. lsxphotog - Jan 3, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    With a solid netminder and a more defensive discipline, Tampa would play with all the big boys like they did in the playoffs last year. He knows this. I’m sure it will be done.

  2. rainyday56 - Jan 3, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Tampa isn’t the only crap team to have gone deep in the playoffs. For years the hockey media, carping about the relevance of the regular season have been barking up the wrong tree. What’s at issue here is the relevance of the post season, except for the team that wins the cup.

    • govtminion - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      I don’t want to come across rude, so don’t take it that way, but can you explain what you mean here? Because I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say at all.

      • rainyday56 - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Bad choice of words. Sub the word “relevance” with “irrelavance”.

    • lsxphotog - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Define “crap team” because 103 points in the regular season isn’t what I would call crap, I would call it pretty damn good – especially for a team with a new GM, coach, and over half a new roster on what was considered a “rebuilding year” plagued by early year goaltending problems. This year the team still has goaltending problems, amongst many others.

      If they can find a way to get the team to, I don’t know, stick their man and get the puck out of their own zone, maybe they would look a lot better. Their power play is comically bad too. Keep in mind Tampa finished with 80 points in ’09-’10 so they managed 23 more points in the regular season after a massive rebuild. They are on pace for 82 this season and they have a lot of home games left, so we shall see. I could see them realistically ending the year around 90-95 points and battling for that 8th seed.

  3. icelovinbrotha215 - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Paul Holmgren is pretty grounded too.

  4. danphipps01 - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    You know, if he picks up someone like Schneider or Harding as a free agent and pulls off a couple good trades and signages for a true #1 D and some depth scoring, this team would turn it around fast. Yeah, they were held aloft by Roloson playing WAY above his usual skill level, much like the Oilers were in ’06, but the parts are there. Decent defense, a good top six, a one-man highlight reel in Stamkos who’s only further enhanced by the unaging St. Louis… and Connolly’s looking like he’ll turn into a good player in future, too. They’ve got major depth issues and the goaltending issue is crippling, but Yzerman’s already shown he can do big things with just a couple of moves. He’ll turn ‘em into a contender. He’s just being patient about it.

  5. cardmagnet - Jan 3, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Why is he surprised? They did nothing before the season except lose pieces to the team. Well, they did sign Roli, which was a bad decision. During the playoff push, it was often Roloson that was at fault for losing the games they did, and the ones they won were often the result of him getting extremely lucky. Roloson fell in manure and came out smelling like a rose.

    • vinstamarty - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      READ! third paragraph, in the middle: “We’re not suprised at all”. They signed Garon and he’s not working out. Injuries on defense and Brewer forgetting how to play is dooming us right now. I still say Stevie Y gets it done via trades. Might not win any division / conference crowns but I see us getting in the 7th or 8th spot with a second half push.

  6. lsxphotog - Jan 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Last night’s game was proof of two things: Tampa has absolutely no structure to their defense and (the obvious) their goaltending problems are very deep.

    Their first problem is more important, IMO, because it doesn’t matter how good your goalie is if you have poor defense, he’s going to see shots that will catch him off guard. Breaking down most of the goals scored against Tampa, it’s clear to see that their defensive play just gets lazy in their coverage. They need grit. They need to get in the opposition’s face. Instead of everyone looking around for the puck, they should be focusing in on the dive bombers coming in from the circles and the slot attacking the crease. They slip up a goal this way pretty much every game.

    As for their goaltending, man…what do you say there. Simple, unobstructed shots just breezing past and looking down right embarrassing. If Tampa thought Garon was their answer, they’re gravely mistaken. There is a reason why career backup goaltenders are career backups. Not because they suck, or because they aren’t as good as a starter. It’s because they can only play well in short spurts or when they’re fresh. Garon has played some KILLER games for Tampa, but that’s only when he is rested or within his 3 or 4 game bubble. His streak of 8 or whatever starts in a row doesn’t count because of the long Christmas break. Garon’s play was bad last night…just bad. Then Roloson come in and plays mediocre. But, by that point, the breakdown was complete and Tampa had packed things up to lose the game.

    I will say that Stamkos has absolutely blown me away. I can’t believe that he’s walking away from everyone else for the Rocket because he’s the most consistent goal scorer in the NHL for the last three years. Damn.

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