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Posted On Friday, 02.01.2013 / 12:44 PM

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

Lightning chase fifth straight win, 5-0 home mark

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will go for their fifth consecutive win when they face the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The game marks the third time during this five-game homestand that the Lightning have caught a team on the back end of back-to-back games. The Jets lost 6-3 to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise on Thursday night.

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Posted On Friday, 02.01.2013 / 12:18 PM

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

Mikkelson doing well after scary injury at practice

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Brendan Mikkelson dodged serious injury at Thursday's practice, but not before putting a good scare into everyone watching.

Mikkelson lost an edge and went flying headfirst into the boards. He briefly lost consciousness and was removed on a gurney to Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated and released.

"I'm sore today," Mikkelson said. "I was hustling after the puck because Steven Stamkos was right behind me, and I just blew a tire. No headaches, nothing on the CAT scans, I just have never had anything like that happen to me before. I'm pretty stiff and sore today."

Mikkelson will sit out on a day-to-day basis until he is cleared to play.

"I don't have a timetable for his return," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, "but I feel real fortunate because it wasn't pretty yesterday at practice. Headfirst into the boards, his shoulder, and he wasn't moving. It wasn't looking good, but we got lucky there."

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Posted On Friday, 02.01.2013 / 12:04 PM

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

Jets' Byfuglien to miss second straight game

TAMPA, Fla. -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel said defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will sit out Firday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning due to an undisclosed lower-body injury.

This will be the second straight game Byfuglien has missed. He also sat out Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers.

In six games, he has three goals and four assists.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 12:28 PM

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

Versteeg back as struggling Panthers face Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. -- It might be early in the season, but the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers have been speeding in opposite directions.

The Panthers (1-4-0) will face the Lightning (4-1-0) on Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in the first of five games this season between the teams. The Panthers arrive staggering, having dropped their past four games in regulation. Saturday night in Sunrise, they were manhandled by the Philadelphia Flyers, 7-1.

Florida has been hit by some key injuries, but forward Kris Versteeg is set to return to the lineup and make his season debut against the Lightning.

For Tampa Bay, the picture could not be more different. The Lightning are riding a four-game win streak and have yet to lose on home ice through three contests. Their game on Sunday was perhaps their best of the season, a solid 5-1 victory over the Flyers.

In that game, eight different players hit the score sheet for Tampa Bay, and five games into the season, 12 skaters have found the back of the net. Steven Stamkos has a five-game season-long scoring streak entering Tuesday, and Martin St. Louis has eight assists, including four against the Flyers.

Despite the positives, Lightning coach Guy Boucher is taking nothing for granted against their cross-state rival.

"Their coach (Kevin Dineen) said he was really disappointed after their last game and that they would be ready for the next one," Boucher said. "They have urgency, they have lost four in a row, Versteeg's back -- they will come out charging."

For his part, Boucher doesn't plan to mess with what is working and the Lightning will send out a lineup identical to their previous game.

For the Panthers, Drew Shore, who played in the AHL All-Star Game on Monday in Providence, R.I., should be back in time to be in the lineup.

"Drew’s made some good strides early," Dineen said, "and his compete level is fairly high, so he deserves to continue to get a quality shot here."

But the big addition for Florida is Versteeg.

"Our confidence level is not huge right now," Dineen said, "but one of Versteeg's strengths is that he can go out and affect the outcome of the game."

LIGHTNING

Ryan MaloneSteven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis

Cory ConacherVincent LecavalierTeddy Purcell

Adam HallNate ThompsonB.J. Crombeen

Tom PyattBenoit PouliotDana Tyrell

Eric BrewerMatthew Carle

Victor HedmanSami Salo

Brian LeeKeith Aulie

Anders Lindback

Mathieu Garon

Scratches: Brendan Mikkelson, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Marc-Andre Bergeron

PANTHERS

Kris VersteegTomas KopeckyTomas Fleischmann

Jonathan HuberdeauPeter MuellerAlex Kovalev

Scottie UpshallShawn MatthiasDrew Shore

George ParrosJerred SmithsonJack Skille

Filip KubaBrian Campbell

Ed JovanovskiKeaton Ellerby

Mike WeaverDmitry Kulikov

Jose Theodore

Scott Clemmensen

Scratches: Mike Santorelli, Tyson Strachan

Injuries: Stephen Weiss, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Erik Gudbranson, Michael Caruso

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Posted On Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 11:50 AM

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

Lightning welcome Flyers, hope to stay perfect at home

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Lightning will look for recent history to repeat itself when they meet the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Lightning will put their 2-0-0 home record on the line against a Flyers team that had gotten off to a slow start but now seem to have their game together. Philadelphia (2-3-0) has won two games in a row, including a 7-1 thrashing Saturday night of the Florida Panthers.

On Friday night, the Lightning faced the then-undefeated Ottawa Senators in the second of back-to-back games after Ottawa had skated against the Florida Panthers the day prior. In that contest, Tampa Bay fired three third-period goals for a comeback win.

The Flyers arrive in Tampa in the exact same situation and the Lightning are hoping for the exact same result.

“We have to take advantage of them early,” Steven Stamkos said. “Maybe they will be a little tired.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher is not counting on that, however.

“I don’t think (playing back-to-back games) will be an issue for them,” Boucher said. “They won 7-1 last night and rested their top guys in the third period so they are coming in charging.”

The Flyers had an optional morning skate with only a few players on the ice.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

FLYERS

Wayne Simmonds - Claude Giroux - Matt Read

Danny Briere - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Mike Knuble - Brayden Schenn - Ruslan Fedotenko

Tye McGinn - Maxime Talbot - Scott Laughton

Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn

Nicklas Grossmann - Braydon Coburn

Kurtis Foster - Bruno Gervais

Ilya Bryzgalov

Michael Leighton

LIGHTNING

Ryan MaloneSteven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis

Cory ConacherVincent LecavalierTeddy Purcell

Adam HallNate ThompsonB.J. Crombeen

Tom PyattBenoit PouliotDana Tyrell

Eric BrewerMatthew Carle

Victor HedmanSami Salo

Brian LeeKeith Aulie

Anders Lindback

Mathieu Garon

Scratched: Brandan Mikkelson, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Marc-Andre Bergeron

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:16 PM

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

Lightning start long homestand against hot Senators

TAMPA, Fla. -- This is the first of five straight home games for the Tampa Bay Lightning -- the team's longest homestand of the season.

“For us, this is one game. [Friday night], we are playing the Ottawa Senators,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. “That’s all I’m focusing on. This game. Period.”

Vincent Lecavalier will be honored before the game for playing in his 1,000th NHL game Monday night in Uniondale against the New York Islanders. This will be the first home game since Lecavalier reached his milestone.

The Lightning will hold an eight-minute ceremony prior to the game during which his teammates will present gifts and the team will honor him with the traditional inscribed silver stick. Lecavalier is expecting 35 friends and family members to be in attendance.

The Senators are undefeated after three games and have yielded two goals, but will have a slightly different look against the Lightning. Coach Paul MacLean announced after the team's skate Friday that forward Kaspars Daugavins and defenseman Mark Borowiecki will replace Guillaume Latendresse and Patrick Wiercioch in the lineup. Latendresse reportedly has a minor injury, while Wiercioch appears to be a healthy scratch.

Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop will get the call in net, his first start of the season. Bishop collected his first win with the Senators against the Lightning, a 7-3 victory on March 6, 2012.

“That’s got to help,” Bishop said. “It’s a good memory.”

LIGHTNING

Martin St. Louis – Steven StamkosRyan Malone

Cory ConacherVincent LecavalierTeddy Purcell

Nate ThompsonAdam HallB.J. Crombeen

Tom PyattBenoit Pouliot

Eric Brewer – Matt Carle

Victor HedmanSami Salo

Brian LeeMarc-Andre Bergeron

Keith Aulie

Anders Lindback

Mathieu Garon

Scratched: Dana Tyrell, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Brendan Mikkelson

NOTE: Tampa Bay will dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

MacLean told reporters he wasn't sure how the Senators' lineup would shake out because of the two changes. Latendresse had been skating on Ottawa's second line with Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson, while Wiercioch had been part of the team's third defense pairing with Andre Benoit.

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaJakob Silfverberg

Kaspars DaugavinsKyle TurrisDaniel Alfredsson

Colin GreeningZack SmithChris Neil

Peter Regin – Jim O’Brien – Erik Condra

Erik KarlssonMarc Methot

Sergei GoncharChris Phillips

Andre BenoitMark Borowiecki

Ben Bishop

Craig Anderson

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Lightning, Capitals excited to start season

TAMPA, Fla. –- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their 20th anniversary season by hosting the Washington Capitals at the sold-out Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

It’s not quite business as usual, though, as emotions and nerves were running high in both locker rooms.

“This is not a normal night,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said after the morning skate. “It’s exciting for everyone. The players have been waiting for a long time, the fans have been waiting for a long time and I’ve been waiting for a long time. It’s here and it’s now and we’re all eager to go.”

The day promises to be especially exciting for Cory Conacher, who will be making his NHL debut skating on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell.

“Yeah, it’s hit me,” Connacher said. “I want to act like I’ve been here before but even just walking into the rink tonight will be a great experience.”

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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lightning promise 'work-ethic show' against Capitals

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning play their final home game of the 2011-12 season Monday night when the Washington Capitals visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

For the Capitals, with three regular season games remaining and a slim two-point grip on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the game has huge postseason implications.

"It's a big game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "We need all those points and we have to be ready to battle out there and get our two points."

But for the Lightning, the contest is meaningful, too, as they have the chance to play spoiler and send the home crowd off with optimism for the future.

With that in mind, Tampa Bay is planning somewhat of a fan appreciation night.

"We'll try to give the fans a great show tonight," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "Regardless of playoffs or no playoffs, we've always talked about isolating games and this game is isolated. We want to please our fans with a work-ethic show."

To the players' disappointment, there is little else left for them to offer the fans now except hard work.

"We're disappointed that we won't be playing some hockey in April and May," Martin St. Louis said. "It's a tough League and we want to finish strong and make the fans feel good about the last home game. It's not about the wins and losses, it's the effort you put on the ice. The fans will recognize the work ethic and the effort, and if you do that you give yourself a good chance to win games. We'll work on that tonight."

Also on display, though the team is playing it down, will be Steven Stamkos' continued drive to be the first NHL player to get 60 goals since Alex Ovechkin notched 65 in 2007-08. Stamkos currently has 56 with four games remaining.

"I'll be honest, I'm not big on these things," Boucher said. "Nobody in the room talks about that. The only people that talk about it are the media. If he gets 59, does that diminish him as a player? When players chase these intangibles they aren't part of a team-oriented mentality. Steven is the first guy to be an unselfish, team-oriented guy. Whether he stays at 56 or goes to 62 he's still going to be a great leader, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had 59 and an open net, if he didn't pass the puck to someone else."

Boucher might not be surprised, but everyone else in the building would be.

Still, Stamkos has been making a point of telling teammates not to go out of their way to set him up for scoring chances.

"I think what Steven is saying with that is that he wants everyone to understand that he's not going after 60 goals," Boucher said. "He's going after our team winning. But that's him. That's what makes Steven special. He sees things as they are and he's a great leader for it."

This is the sixth and final meeting between these two clubs this season. The Capitals have won three of five, but the Lightning (2-1-2) have points in four of five. They have defeated the Capitals in two home games previously.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:06 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Capitals, Lightning

Here's how the lineups project when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Washington Capitals on Monday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum:

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Keith Aucoin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Mike Knuble

Karl Alzner - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Michal Neuvirth
Braden Holtby

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - J.T. Brown 
Tim Wallace - Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson
Brandon Segal - JT Wyman - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Keith Aulie
Brian Lee - Brendan Mikkelson

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron

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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:00 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Brown set for NHL debut with Lightning

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their final homestand of the season when they play host to the Winnipeg Jets at Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

With just two home games remaining and after two consecutive losses, it might appear like the Lightning are just playing out the string, but that assumption would be incorrect. Lightning coach Guy Boucher promises a full effort from his team.

“We play great at home and have respected our fans with our work ethic,” Boucher said.  “Our fans have given back to us by filling the stands every game. It’s important that we recognize that, but I want us to recognize that with a 60-minute effort. We’re playing a tough team and I don’t know if we’ll win or lose but there is one thing we can control and that is our work ethic.”

That effort has been absent in Tampa Bay’s previous two games -- losses to Boston and New Jersey. In both games, the Lightning started well but lackluster second periods changed the momentum of the contest completely.

“We get a great focus to start games and we’re short-staffed so I think the players come on the ice and they don’t want to get their butts kicked and it shows,” Boucher said.  “But I feel like when the first period is over they have a sense of relief. We don’t want that. The relief is when the game is over, the full 60 minutes.”

The Lightning will debut their newest acquisition Saturday night -- forward J.T. Brown, who signed March 28 as a college free agent from Minnesota-Duluth. The 21-year old was the MVP of the 2011 Frozen Four as he led the Bulldogs to the NCAA title.

Brown is the son of former Vikings running back Ted Brown, but unlike his father, the younger Brown’s sport was hockey rather than football.

“I played football until I was in ninth grade and then I had to make a choice to go one way or the other,” Brown said. “I like football but I have a passion for hockey.”

Brown had plenty of suitors once he announced his intention to leave school after his sophomore season, but said he chose to sign with Tampa Bay (a two-year deal) because he felt the Lightning would give him an opportunity to play right away.

He’s getting that, for sure.

“He’s going to play the remaining five games,” Boucher said. “We’ll give him some ice time with some quality players and give him the time to show us some of the stuff that our scouts have seen in him.

“He’s eager. He’s a young guy who is going to play in the NHL. Those were nerve-racking days, yesterday and today, signing his contract and all that. It’s a dream week but also a tough week to manage for him. We know that and the players he will play with are aware of that, too and they are ready to help him.”

They can start by helping him relax before the game.

“This is an exciting moment in my life,” Brown said. “Your first NHL game only happens once so I’ll try to make the best of it tonight. I usually take a pre-game nap but we’ll have to see if I can get one in today or not.”

Winnnipeg arrives for the second game in a back-to-back series, having kept its meager playoff hopes alive Friday night with a 4-3 overtime win in Carolina.

Saturday’s matchup is the fifth of six meetings between the Jets and the Lightning this season. The Jets have won three of the first four.

JETS

Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Antti Miettinen
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Kyle Wellwood - Tim StapletonNik Antropov
Ben Maxwell- Jim Slater - Spencer Machacek

Zach Bogosian - Ron Hainsey
Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason

LIGHTNING

Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - J.T. Brown
Tim Wallace - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
JT Wyman - Trevor Smith - Brandon Segal

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Brian Lee
Brendan Mikkelson - Mike Commodore

Sebastien Caron
Dwayne Roloson
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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season