St. Louis was hit in the foot by a shot while killing a penalty during the Lightning's 5-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, and while tests have not shown any fracture, his status for the game is up in the air.
"Let's get this out of the way -- Marty is a game-time decision," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We will see what happens over the next few hours but he's an option to play. I don't want someone in there who may be apprehensive and not the Marty we are used to seeing. But we'll find out at game time."
"If they need me I'll be ready," Connolly said.
When the Kings take the ice Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, look for Mike Richards to play between Justin Williams and Dustin Brown, while Jeff Carter will shift to the wing on a line with center Anze Kopitar and Dwight King. Daniel Carcillo was moved down to the fourth line.
Sutter downplayed the change as "insignificant," pointing out that his top four skaters get significant ice time together on power plays.
"They play a lot together as it is," Sutter said. "Their minutes are different than everyone else."
Here is the line the Kings likely will use Tuesday:
For the Lightning, coming off a last-minute loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the matchup against the Kings figures to be a test of where they stand early in the season.
"We keep running into these tests," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Like, wow, this whole League is a test, I'm finding out."
"Again, we're playing another team that their whole core is together," Cooper said. "They played deep into the [postseason]. They throw four lines at you, they are big and they are strong."
Tampa Bay could have found an easier opportunity to put their three-game winning streak on the line against, as the Penguins enter the game having won six straight games and eight of their past 10 meetings against the Lightning, including a 6-3 win in one of the 16 games that Lightning coach Jon Cooper was behind the bench for last season.
"That game could just as well have been 16-2," Cooper said.
After that dominating performance, Cooper has circled this game on the schedule as an important test for the Lightning.
"This one I've been looking forward to," Cooper said. "Just in the sense that it is a measuring stick for us. This is the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference. I know it's really early and I don't know how much you can take from it but on a personal side and for our team I want to see where we are at."
TAMPA -- With Tom Pyatt out with a broken collar bone suffered during the Tampa Bay Lightning's win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, coach Jon Cooper is turning to Richard Panik to fill the gap.
Panik made the team out of training camp but did not look effective in the first two games and was a healthy scratch against the Sabres. He is a player Cooper knows well, having played for the coach previously in the American Hockey League.
"Richard is a high-end talent and he’s just got to -- he knows it, we've talked about this -- whether you are new to the League or old, you have to bring it every single night," Cooper said, "and there are times he's been exceptional for us and times he hasn't. He's just growing as a young player. It's not to the point where he doesn't belong in the League. Maybe for one night he didn't belong in the lineup.
TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their home season Thursday after playing their first three games on the road. The Lightning (2-1-0) host a team probably as road-weary as they are in the Florida Panthers. Florida (1-2-0) has yet to see its home ice, and this will be the fourth consecutive road game for the club.
The matchup reunites two friendly rivals from their American Hockey League days: Jon Cooper, in his first full season as coach of the Lightning, and Kevin Dineen, beginning his third season behind the bench for the Panthers.
"We have mutual friends," Cooper said, "and before we got to know each other, he was coaching in Portland and I was coaching in Norfolk and we were going to meet after a game and they had a 3-0 lead on us and we stormed back in the third to eventually win in overtime and we had to walk across the ice and I remember we were going to meet on the ice and then I thought, nah, and I just let him go. We met an hour later.
"He's a really competitive guy and above his competitiveness he's a great guy and I got a lot of time for him. We have kind of an inter-rivalry dating back to the AHL, but it will never come to a problem. I enjoy his company, and I'll enjoy it more when we beat him tonight."
TAMPA, Fla. -- He had 16 games behind the bench to finish last season, but Jon Cooper opened his first training camp as the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.
Cooper, who joined the Lightning from the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, went 5-8-3 with a team hurt by injuries and which finished 14th in the Eastern Conference, but there is no discounting how much that brief spell leading the team has proved invaluable for him.
"Just getting to know the landscape helped," Cooper said. "The travel, the day-to-day operation, everything that goes on in the League, meeting the media on a daily basis, just things that you don't plan for to take up your time and all of a sudden your day is gone and you don't know what happened with it. That was big for me in the month I was here.
"The second big thing was getting the relationship with the players, being able to find out, in anticipation of this year, who could play where. Moving in, I just have a better grasp on the team."
Lecavalier, now with the Philadelphia Flyers, had his absence noted, but for many his departure is viewed as a mixed blessing.
"Not having Vinny here is a little weird," veteran forward Ryan Malone said, "but we recognize it as a business decision."
It is a new day in Tampa Bay, and the door is open for an enthusiastic collection of members of the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, to make their mark.
"We've had to absorb some big losses on our roster, but that's the door opening for some of the young talent, and a lot of this talent has won before," Lightning coach Jon Cooper, starting his first full season with the team, said. "They have it in them. They know what it takes. This is just another little step they have to take. There will be some battles and I'm pretty excited to see which ones grab the torch."
TAMPA -- It's Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos against the Florida Panthers on Saturday -- or at least it seems that way, as the last bit of excitement for two teams that end their season with this game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum centers around St. Louis' pursuit of the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the NHL and Stamkos' quest for the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals.
Make no mistake, the entire Tampa Bay Lightning squad will be on hand, but mostly just to assist both players in their pursuits.
"They are talented players and we'd be lying to say that it's not in the back of our minds," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "In the last game of the year, if we can ultimately get two players to be recognized for how they played all year and their accomplishments, we'll do our best to help them out."
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That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.