Lightning must come together as a team to fill Vinny void

After Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, Marty St. Louis acknowledged the loss of the Tampa Bay veteran:

“It’s a big hole to fill, obviously. He’s a big piece of this team. We’ve got to be a little opportunistic. Collectively we have to pick it up a notch.”

[image-1]Lecavalier has three goals and six assists this season. While fans haven’t seen a Lecavalier who is scoring goals every night, there is no question that his presence is vital, both on and off the ice. Head coach Guy Boucher acknowledged this last week, and noted how Vinny had dedicated this season to leading and inspiring the team.

“He’s always in the office asking what he can do, details wise, to be a complete player, to inspire people," Boucher said. "He’s been great. If you ask anybody, they’ll say it’s the hardest he’s worked the last two years. I’m impressed, to be honest with you.”

Right winger Steve Downie, who recently missed three games due to injury, noted that the coming weeks will be difficult with the absence of such a leader.

“Vinny’s our captain. He’s our team, he’s the man. When you lose your leader it’s tough. With him and [Gagne] out, it’s two of our top players right there. It’s going to be tough, but the guys are working hard.”

“You’re not gonna replace Vinny,” added St. Louis, “but with a bunch of guys elevating their games, we can try to get by while he’s gone.”

It’s unfortunate to see this team lose its captain. To get through the coming weeks, it will be essential for Tampa to amplify their game to work through the loss. But the positive side, and perhaps the difference, is that the members of this team have complete confidence in the man behind them and the men beside them, their coach and teammates.

“We can’t lose focus,” said Downie, “we’ve got to stay together as a group. Every team goes through this. It’s how you come out of it. It’s how we stay focused as a team--we’ve got to stay together.”

Today, Vincent Lecavalier is in Cleveland, undergoing surgery for the non-displaced fracture on his right hand. After losing the last three games - the last two without Vinny - a big question mark surfaces:

How is the Tampa Bay Lightning going to survive without its captain?

According to the initial prognosis from team officials, Lecavalier is expected to be out for three to four weeks, if all goes well. After Tampa Bay’s habitual swings back and forth in momentum, it is difficult to endure what seems to be another downward spiral.

The team is doing everything right, but not all the odds are working in their favor.

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