With the 20 game mark coming up in the season, there is some talking around the league about moves coming up and already players have been waived, acquired, and a coach fired.
So, how comfortable is Steve Yzerman with the way his team is thus far? I know certain players haven't been healthy, but injury proneness and bad luck sometimes can be a reason for your dismissal. And no, I'm not talking about Simon Gagne just yet. Check back before the trade deadline.
As you may know already, rumors have come around this week about the Lightning (per Mike Corcoran and some French reports that I couldn't read). Marc-Andre Bergeron is expected to finish his rehab from knee surgery and take tests next week, and is expected to sign with a team thereafter if he passes. Sources tell Corcoran that Bergeron expects that to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bergeron played 60 games last year with the Canadians scoring 34 points in that span and is known to be more of an offensive type defense man but has the reputation to be soft in his own zone.
Before this year began, head coach Guy Boucher had said that he likes the idea of having a power play specialist and he hasn't had a definite one of those so far. We've seen Pavel Kubina play most of the minutes while not producing very much, same with Victor Hedman. Lately, Mattias Ohlund has gotten a shot at it and had little success. Brett Clark has contributed on some levels, but he's probably more valuable to the team being used as a shut-down defensiveman rather than logging all those power play minutes.
While the defense takes up 20% of the unit during the power play (1 out of 5 skaters) they've only contributed to 8.2% of the points thus far (6 out of 49).
Yet after all this the Lightning have still been quite successful on the power play, having the league's 6th best percentage. Much thanks to the Hammer, Steven Stamkos.
If the Lightning were to have a #1 power play specialist like Bergeron, in theory it would take some pressure off the other D-men to do their jobs more efficiently 5-on-5, which has been a major concern in November. In my personal opinion, I don't see the harm in trying it: M.A. Bergeron was quite successful last year finishing 4th in the league in PP points with 22 in only 60 games. The league lead was held by Mike Green with 35 PP points and that high powered Capitals offense.
So you must wonder who's the odd man out if the rumor is true? Well, I'd have to say its probably Matt Smaby. Smaby's minutes are so low anyway (8 minutes per game) it doesn't look like he has been trusted that much by Boucher thus far this season, even after his sickness and injuries.
On a separate note: After listening to a preseason recording of Yzerman as a guest on NHL Live I noticed he made comments about the goaltending and how he wants to see them being consistent. So far I can imagine him being disappointed in that area. And also he stated that he expects Cedrick Desjardins to push Mike Smith and Dan Ellis to keep their jobs as NHL goalies. It will be interesting to see, if the inconsistency continues, if Yzerman will keep true to his word, and just how long is he willing to wait around. And if he isn't going to wait long, is Desjardins the right man for the job?