Lightning forward Teddy Purcell beginning to find more consistency in his game
"He's physical,"; assistant coach Martin Raymond said.
"He's got a sick set of hands and an outstanding shot,” added forward Nate Thompson.
"He's a skilled player," captain Vincent Lecavalier claimed.
And then there's this: "He also has a tendency to fall asleep."
Enter head coach Guy Boucher.
In the week leading up to the All-Star break, Boucher sat down with Purcell for a one-on-one meeting in which he told the forward he would grant him more ice time, although with one small catch.
"I told him to move his feet and work harder to be first on puck," Boucher said. "I said I would give him the opportunity to play more minutes as long as he deserved it."
Lately, Purcell has proved that his coach's wake-up call has been received loud and clear.
The Bolts winger enters Thursday's game against Winnipeg with points in three of his past four games, and with points in all but three games since Jan. 12.
With 13 goals and 28 points through 48 games this season, Purcell is on pace to reach 22 goals, which would surpass last season's career-high total of 17, while his projected 48 points would fall just three shy of matching a career-best 51.
"He's got all the tools," Raymond added," but he's a bit of a mystery. It's something that the coaches and I have talked about before. He'll give you a lot and make smart plays, then wander off the path."
If Purcell continues to perform like he has as of late, and finds that same form that saw him record six goals and 17 points in 18 playoff games last spring, his current two-year, $4.725 million deal would be considered a bargain.
He admitted that before games he sits in his locker stall and visualizes shooting the puck more as a self-prescribed method to break himself out of his pass-first mentality, which was reinforced upon his arrival in Tampa Bay nearly two years ago as a result of joining a team laden with stars such as Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos.
Fast forward to the present day, however, and Purcell said he feels more comfortable and has become more cognizant of not wasting as many scoring opportunities.
That was on display less than two weeks ago, when he scored twice in a 2-1 win over Dallas on Jan. 20 and followed up the performance with an additional goal the very next night to help the Lightning earn a 4-3 victory against the Coyotes.
He most recently scored on Tuesday night versus Washington, which gave him a total of four goals in an equal number of games.
So, what has been the difference exactly?
"It's a matter of taking the positives out of the tough situations," Purcell said. “I’ve tried to just go out there and have fun and not think as much. The challenge is all within my own hands.”