Lightning Strikes (Cristodero)
Nothing was announced officially, but watching the Tampa Bay Lightning's morning skate for its game tonight against the Flyers seemed to indicate a few lineup changes.
With Pierre-Cedric Labrie off the ice early and Dana Tyrell staying late, it seems as if Labrie will get his first game action since the Jan. 21 road opener against the Islanders. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron might also get some playing time as he also was off the ice early. Another tweak: wings Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone have swapped assignments. Purcell was on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Cory Conacher. Malone took Purcell's former spot on a line with center Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis.
"I tend to keep Stammer and Marty together and Conacher and Vinny together and move guys in and out of there depending on the period, depending on the momentum (of a game)," coach Guy Boucher said. "Malone brings a physical aspect to a line and Teddy brings a passing ability and vision that's out of the ordinary,so they're both good on both lines depending on the moment of the game. If I want to stir up something or I see something or I see the matchup that the other teams wants to have against us, sometimes I'll make a different decision."
As for how Labrie and Bergeron have handled their lack of playing time -- Labrie got 4:54 against the Islanders, Bergeron has 14:15 in two games -- Boucher said he could not have asked for more.
"Terrific attitude and work ethic," he said. "I know they're boiling and want to play, but they want more and to show what they can do. But on the outside, they've helped out the team chemistry and atmosphere."
"I'm practicing and I know I'm getting better, so there's nothing wrong with that," Labrie said. "I'm keeping the positive side. I'm closing my eyes to the other one."
Even so, he added, "Everybody feels the same when you're sitting down and watching, but we have such a good team. When you win like that you can't expect the coach to make the lineup changes or anything. Nobody deserves to sit."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected Anders Lindback will get the start in net. ... Defenseman Victor Hedman (left foot) did not skate in the morning but is expected to play. ... Lecavalier (left foot) also skated in the morning and is expected to play. ... Defenseman Brendan Mikkelson (right shoulder and general soreness) has been cleared to play after sliding head- and shoulder-first into the end boards during a Thursday practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. ... Defenseman Matt Carle will play for the first time at the Wells Fargo Center since he left he Flyers as a free agent and signed last summer with the Lightning. "It's a little different. I have a lot of memories in this building," said Carle, who spent four seasons with Philadelphia. "It's weird being over here in this locker room. I had to do a quick tour. I think, maybe, I played two games on the road against the Flyers before I got traded here. I didn't know what the visiting locker room really looked like." ... Tyrell probably is out of the lineup tonight, but that does not mean he hasn't impressed Boucher. "He is pond-for-pound one of the strongest players we've got and one of the most dedicated individuals we've got." ... Ben Pouliot also has impressed, Boucher said. "In front of the net he's unbelievable," he said. "Our goaltenders have told me he's one of the best they've ever seen. So, he screens and he's not scared."
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said his left ankle, which on Saturday was hit flush by a shot from teammate Sami Salo, still is sore, and he did not practice Monday. But about Tuesday's game against the Flyers, Lecavalier said, "There is no thought of me not playing."
Lecavalier, who has four goals, 11 points in eight games, as well as a team-best 24 hits, was hurt just as the third period of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Rangers ended. Tampa Bay had closed to one goal with 21 seconds left on Steven Stamkos' second goal of the game and seventh of the season, and Salo's shot from the blue line was the team's last chance.
But the shot deflected slightly off New York's Brian Boyle and hit Lecavalier on the outside of the left ankle. Lecavalier went down face-first when hit and skated slowly off the ice, occasionally doubling over in pain. But X-rays and an MRI exam revealed no serious damage and the team said Lecavalier has a bone bruise.
Asked how the lineup would change if Lecavalier could not play, coach Guy Boucher said, "He'll play."
Lecavalier said he skipped Monday's practice simply to give the ankle a bit more time to heal, and he said he will keep icing and get other treatments.
"It's still pretty sore," he said. "But honestly, there's no thought of me not playing tomorrow."
Notes: Boucher said Anders Lindback, 5-1-0 this season with a 2.83 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, will get the start against the Flyers. ... Right wing B.J. Crombeen still is wearing a walking boot and still is using crutches, but both are said to be precautions to protect his injured left foot he said was hurt by a puck several games ago. Crombeen has not missed a game.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers. See game photos.
Images of the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Winnipeg Jets.
Tampa Bay Lightning fans likely remember James Wright as the feel-good story of the first half of the 2009-10 season, when the left wing made the roster out of junior. He played 48 games before he was sent back to Vancouver of the Western Hockey League.
Wright, 22, is back in the NHL with the Jets, who play the Lightning tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and in his team's good graces after attacking Florida's Scottie Upshall on Thursday after Upshall elbowed teammate Zach Redmond in the head in his first NHL game.
"I think that through the years the coaches have instilled a team mentality, all for one and stick up for each other," said Wright, who earned 19 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct, five for fighting and two each for instigating and unsportsmanlike conduct for instigating while wearing a face shield. "I thought that was a time a teammate got taken advantage of and it was time for me to stick up for him."
"I was happy with what happened," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "It was a good response from him."
After his stint with Tampa Bay, Wright played another season for Vancouver and in 2010-11 played for AHL Norfolk. In 2011-12, still with Norfolk, he was traded to the Panthers with Mike Vernace for defensemen Mike Kostka and Evan Oberg and was sent to AHL San Antonio. The Jets claimed him off waivers in January.
In five games for the Jets, Wright has zero points, is minus-1 and averaging 7:17 of ice time with some penalty kill time thrown in.
"He's played really well," Noel said. "He's a really dependable player for us right now, a good, solid, fourth-line left winger that skates and is hard to play against. For me, he's gotten better every game."
"There were a lot of good guys I learned from here," said Wright, drafted 117th overall by the Lightning in 2008. "Marty (St. Louis) and Vinny (Lecavalier) are classy guys, and the way they went about their professionalism was something I took full advantage of learning."
"It's going to be awesome," Wright said of playing at the Times Forum. "I haven't been back here for a while. It's going to be pretty cool."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Anders Lindback will make his fourth straight start in net for the Lightning. ... Defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brendan Mikkelson and right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie are scratched. ... Mikkelson said he "dodged a bullet" when he crashed head- and shoulder-first into the end boards during Thursday's practice. Mikkelson, who is day-to-day, said all tests performed at Tampa General Hospital (an X-ray and a CT scan) were negative. He said he has no headaches and is nothing more than sore and stiff. Mikkelson said he isn't sure whether he got his skates tangled up with those of Steven Stamkos as they raced after a puck or if he just "blew a tire." Either way, Mikkelson said he never before hit the boards that hard and believes he was unconscious for a few seconds. When he came to he said he was "gasping for air" as the wind was knocked out of him. Of the collision, he said, "The guys told me it was pretty solid." ... Right wing Marty St. Louis has a dubious distinction as entering Friday he was tied for the league lead with Penguins defenseman Kris Letang with 11 giveaways. But coach Guy Boucher said he is not worried and not only because St. Louis, with 12 points on three goals and nine assists has been so productive offensively. "Some of the plays that are turnovers have worked before," Boucher said. "Why they don't work now is" because of "what kind of reads they have." The key, Boucher said, is "managing those offensive skills and creativity in a way the players are strong."