NHL

McKenzie: Lightning's tactics on Thomas pay off in the end

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Bob McKenzie
5/21/2011 7:19:45 PM
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Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Saturday:

The Tampa Bay Lightning game plan going into Saturday's game was to get a lot of bodies and a lot of pucks to the blue paint, and try to disrupt Tim Thomas.

And even though they did that consistently in the first period, it didn't work out very well. They got behind the eight-ball and were down 3-0.

But even early on, you could see Thomas was a little rattled with the amount of traffic he was getting and the amount of pokes and prods he got. He was complaining to the referees, coming up and throwing the blocker on guys, and as the game wore on it just looked as though they took him off his edge ever-so-slightly. That paved the way for Tampa Bay to come back from a 3-0 deficit.

It was a good mental toughness display by the Lightning to stay with the game plan, even though things didn't go the way they wanted them to after falling behind so badly in the first period. 

And how about Teddy Purcell with two goals in the hockey game? Here's a guy they picked up from Los Angeles at the trade deadline a year ago in March, for a rental guy in Jeff Halpern. And now, Purcell is paying big dividends.

Canucks' defence depth will be put to the test

The good news for the Vancouver Canucks is that they do have depth on the blueline. But it's always bad news when you're losing regulars on the blueline - especially when one of those is Christian Erhoff.

He took that hit from Jamie McGinn, and it looks like a shoulder injury for Erhoff. He's been such an important contributor, especially on the offensive side of the puck.

Then, Aaron Rome takes that big hit from McGinn, which draws a five-minute major and game misconduct. No suspension for McGinn, but Rome goes down and it looks like he's going to be out as well with a head injury.

The Canucks have depth. Keith Ballard is a $4 million-plus a year player who's been a healthy scratch lately. He's going to get an opportunity to get in the lineup for Erhoff. It's good to have a veteran presence, as opposed to bringing some kid in that's never played before.

But speaking of younger players, there is a chance that Chris Tanev could be inserted into the lineup in the depth position for Rome. Another option they have could also be Andrew Alberts, but they flew Tanev in from Vancouver. He wasn't with the team, but they want to get him an opportunity to practice with the team on the off-day.

Alain Vignault will make the decision later as to who gets into Game 4, but they do have depth on the blueline and they're going to need it here because Erhoff will be a loss.

Tim Thomas (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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