The Tampa Bay Lightning already sat one spot out of last place in the Eastern Conference when the team fired coach Guy Boucher early Sunday. Later that evening the Lightning would fall further out of the playoff race, losing 3-2 at the Winnipeg Jets in their first game under interim coaches Daniel Lacroix, Martin Raymond and Steve Thomas.
“It’s an emotional day for the team,” Lacroix said, via NHL.com, “but I thought the players responded well and played hard. It’s a tight group in the room and an emotional group, too. … [Vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman] met with them. Guys are professional. They know the business and it’s looking forward. The leadership took care of it and for us, it’s just a matter of supporting them.”
It seems ages ago that the Lightning started off their strike-shortened 2013 campaign at 6-1. Tampa Bay, now 13-19-1, had given up four goals in the first period in the game prior to Boucher’s firing, a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators that now provides the meat in the middle of a three-game losing streak.
The Lightning would start off slow again in its first contest without Boucher, as the Jets held Tampa scoreless until near the midway point of the eventual loss.
Expectations remain high for a squad that acquired goalie Anders Lindback, and defensemen Sami Salo and Matt Carle before the season. For now, Yzerman and the franchise carry on without Boucher, the man who coached Tampa Bay to the Eastern Conference finals just two seasons ago.