Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/05/13 at 09:39 AM ET
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
At times last season, the Lightning was pushed around by bigger teams willing to use their size advantage to their advantage. But with recent additions of defensemen Keith Aulie, Brian Lee and Sami Salo as well as Benoit Pouliot, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Crombeen, Tampa Bay is a bigger team this year.
And they want everybody to take notice, especially on the road.
In the Lightning's first road game this season at Long Island, Crombeen and Labrie were in the starting lineup, flanking captain Vinny Lecavalier for the opening faceoff. But before the puck even hit the ice, Crombeen and Labrie tossed down their gloves and began exchanging punches with a pair of New York Islanders, Matt Martin and Joe Finley, respectively.
Though Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said he did not instruct either player to engage in a fight at the start of the game, he did want to deliver a message.
"I just felt it was right to put our bigger guys out there to set the tone for the season since we weren't physical enough on the road last year,'' Boucher said. "And I think the message was sent and it was the right message.
"And our own players – that's what I'm worried about, not anybody else – our own players got the message. I'm the one choosing who starts, so I think everybody understood why we were starting tough guys and big guys.''
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