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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 12:54 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lecavalier heading to IR with lower-body injury

TAMPA -- As if it weren't enough that the Tampa Bay Lightning have lost seven of their past nine games, Thursday morning they also lost captain Vincent Lecavalier.

Lecavalier was placed on injured reserve as a result of a hit he sustained in the third period of Tampa Bay's 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Although the injured-reserve status puts Lecavalier out of action for a minimum of seven days (retroactive to Tuesday), Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he expects Lecavalier will be sidelined longer than that.

"Lecavalier plays a lot of minutes," Yzerman said. "It's a big hole in our lineup. He's one of our key faceoff guys and power-play guys. It's a difficult hole to fill, but we have to try to look at something positive. Someone's going to come down from Syracuse (American Hockey League) and get an opportunity."

That someone will be Tyler Johnson, an undrafted center who leads the AHL with 32 goals and leads the Lightning affiliate with 58 points. Johnson will make his NHL debut Thursday night when Tampa Bay hosts the New York Islanders.

Posted On Saturday, 03.09.2013 / 12:23 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Desjardins to get start for Lightning

TAMPA - In recent games, Tampa Bay Lightning starting goaltender Anders Lindback has occasionally been prone to allowing questionable goals. But coach Guy Boucher said that is not the reason he will turn to Cedrick Desjardins Saturday night when his team meets the Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

It’s not exactly a shot in the dark for Boucher to look to Desjardins, who hasn't appeared in an NHL game since Jan. 1, 2011. A former Montreal prospect, Desjardins faced the Canadiens in his NHL debut on Dec. 30, 2010 and made 27 saves in a 4-1 Lightning win.

But Boucher discounted that as the reason he is turning to his backup netminder, who is actually three years older than 24-year-old Lindback.

“Lindback is a young guy that needs to grow through the hurts and successes that a young guy has to go through," Boucher said after the team's morning skate. "We told him we are going to manage his number of games. We played him probably too much for a while. As a young guy, we have to manage him like we do our forwards and defensemen: Give him his games but not give him too much to chew on.

“There are times he has been great and moments where it’s a learning process for him. He [Lindback] played two [straight] games and I would have changed him anyway. So it’s not about the Canadiens and it’s not even about Lindback. It’s just the fact that I was going to put someone else in after two games, so that’s why Desjardins is going in.”

This is Desjardins’ second time around with the Lightning. He was reacquired by Tampa Bay on Feb. 14 in exchange for netminder Dustin Tokarski. And although he played (and won) two games for the team during the 2010-11 campaign, Boucher isn't taking those appearances into consideration.

“We want to see what we have. We’ve been doing this since the beginning. We’re playing our young guys. We’re playing guys from our American League team. That’s for all positions," Boucher said. "We just feel like we have quality depth and we want this organization to grow. To do that, we don’t want to wait. We want to see what our young guys have. I feel like this is the moment to put him in. If I don’t do it now, I may not get a chance. [Mathieu] Garon will be returning soon and if I don’t put Desjardins in now, I may not get a chance.”

Here are the teams' projected lineups for Saturday's matchup:

Posted On Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 12:48 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Malone's return creates lineup crunch for Lightning

TAMPA -- Ryan Malone will return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Malone, who missed 13 games with a lower-body injury, was cleared to play after the morning skate. His return, while welcomed, does create a lineup dilemma for coach Guy Boucher.

"[Alexander] Killorn has been outstanding, [Ondrej] Palat too, so they are not coming out," Boucher said. "[Pierre-Cedric] Labrie brings us a lot of grit and enthusiasm. We don't want to change that. Those young guys have been terrific."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 1:10 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Malone on ice for Lightning, not ready to return yet

TAMPA -- Injured forward Ryan Malone was on ice with his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates at Tuesday's morning skate, though he wore an orange "no-contact" jersey.

"Ryan Malone is on the ice; that's a good step," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "That's the second step. Off-ice he's doing really well and we'll get him ready on-ice, and I'm sure we'll see him soon. Soon is not tonight. It's hard to say when he'll be back. He's got a few days to work with the therapist, and after that we'll get him in a real practice. Step three in the recovery will be an actual game. I wouldn't say he's three weeks away, but it's not today or the next game."

As Malone, who has missed eight games with a lower-body injury, works toward a return, Boucher faces an interesting dilemma when it comes to finding a spot for him.

Posted On Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 1:15 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Compact schedule has yet to gang up on Bruins

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the schedule maker smiles on you, you accept it and smile back.

So far in this shortened season, the Boston Bruins have had a lot to smile about regarding their schedule. To date, they have played the fewest number of games in the NHL. The current League high is 18 games played; Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum will be game No. 14 for the Bruins.

And after Thursday, they get another break before facing the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

"Time off seems to be a recurring theme with our schedule of late," Boston forward Shawn Thornton said. "If I get caught saying it's a vacation I’m going to get yelled at. We had a couple of days off and had some practices to get ready for this -- at this point in the season we are fairly rested, so we should have a lot of energy. I think rest is a good thing, especially with the condensed schedule, so I'm going to look at it as a positive."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 1:00 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lightning figure to have hands full with Maple Leafs

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will be seeking to end a three-game home slide Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The good news? Their opponent is playing the second half of back-to-back road games, and the Lightning have had excellent results when catching a team in that scenario.

The bad news? Their opponent is the sizzling Toronto Maple Leafs, coming off a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers on Monday night. Toronto has posted a 7-2-0 record in their first nine road games of the season, a record of road success the likes of which the Maple Leafs have not enjoyed since the 1940-41 season.

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 1:37 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Garon to start for Lightning in place of Lindback

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to break a five-game winless streak when they meet the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and coach Guy Boucher will be going to the back-up goaltender to get matters turned around.

But not because he wants to; because he has to.

Anders Lindback, who has started seven of the past nine games for Tampa Bay, is out ill, so Mathieu Garon gets the call in net. As to the extent of Lindback's illness, Boucher sounded as in the dark as anyone.

"I don't know how sick he is," Boucher said. "I have no clue. I don't know if he'll dress tonight. He's home right now and I have no clue. They're going to call him back and see how he's doing later; it might just be a one- or two-hour thing, but right now we're going with Garon in net. That's what I control; the rest -- it's somebody else's business right now.”

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 12:53 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Yzerman: Trade shores up Tampa Bay goalie depth

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman met with the media after the morning skate to discuss the swap of netminders announced Thursday morning, which sent Lightning American Hockey League prospect Dustin Tokarski to the Montreal Canadiens organization in exchange for Cedric Desjardins of the Hamilton Bulldogs.

"We've had Cedric in our organization before and we know him," Yzerman said. "We think he's a very good -- actually excellent -- goaltender at the AHL level and he played for us for a couple of games. We just think he is more ready to play for us if we need him in here. We know the person; we like him and we think he's a good goaltender."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 1:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Boucher liked what he saw from Killorn's debut

TAMPA, Fla. -- There wasn't much for the Tampa Bay Lightning to cheer about Sunday as they concluded a winless 0-3 road trip with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the New York Rangers for their fourth consecutive loss, but coach Guy Boucher did find one bright spot.

Alexander Killorn, making his NHL debut after being called up from Syracuse of the American Hockey League, picked up an assist and skated aggressively in 13:17 minutes of ice time.

"The AHL is a development league; the NHL is a performance league," Boucher said. "You're here to win. When a young guy enters your lineup it is not time for experiments; it's time to see if he can hack it. Can he contribute? Is he reliable? And if he is, you can show him more ice time.

"I saw Killorn in the first two shifts, I start him on the third line and then I realized that he had assets and he's proving it right now and I can use him with top guys, so he deserves it. It's not a question of age or experience, it's a matter of if they are ready. If a guy is ready, let's go."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 12:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lightning's Malone to miss 3-4 weeks

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning General manager Steve Yzerman set out to build depth in the organization, and his results are getting an early test. Forward Ryan Malone will be lost to the team for 3-4 weeks due to a lower-body injury aggravated during a pregame soccer ball kick-around.

The injury occurred Sunday prior to the Lightning's game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and marks the third consecutive season Malone has lost game time due to injuries.

"I'd love to be able to figure it out," coach Guy Boucher said of the recurring injuries. "Then we could plan things. It's a short season and to be out for one month, that's a lot."

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