As Steve Yzerman prepares for the wild, crazy atmosphere that is deadline day in the National Hockey League, his head coach is expressing a sigh of relief.
When Tampa Bay began this ridiculous stretch of games, they were clinging to a one-point edge in the division.
While you might think that having a long stretch at home should have a coach's mind at ease—think again.
Of all the portions of the schedule, this part had Boucher concerned the most.
He worried of complacency as his players would be practicing in the same rink, playing in the same arena and going home every night for an entire month.
He was concerned that the camaraderie of the team—which has been so tight all season—would take a hit as the players weren't afforded opportunities to bond.
Sure enough, when the homestand hit a rough patch in the middle, Boucher and Yzerman sent the team to practice in Naples, Florida to get them away from the St. Pete Times Forum and familiar confines.
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The team responded by becoming the first team in NHL history to end opponent eight-game win streaks in back-to-back games.
After weathering the longest homestand in the NHL since the California Golden Seals in 1975, Tampa Bay ended the run with a solid 7-3-2 record.
Typically, that's not the case for teams with extended stays at home.
The Three NHL Teams With The Longest Homestands in One Season
|12||California Seals||11/26/75 to 12/28/75||4-7-1|
|10||Vancouver Canucks||1/13/82 to 2/3/82||4-3-3|
|10||Phoenix Coyotes||1/28/06 to 3/4/06||3-5-2|
"I think we had a great homestand, it was a great month," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier told reporters. "A lot of people would think that when you are home for a month, there would be a lot of distractions, but I think we stayed pretty focused and we stuck to our task.''
In securing 16 of a possible 24 points on this homestand, the Lightning have set themselves in good position for the stretch run.
With only 10 of their remaining 21 games on the road, the Lightning likely may get used to the home cooking and huge crowds at the St. Pete Times Forum for the playoffs.