BACK IN ACTION
The Tampa Bay Lightning held practice Monday at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Tuesday’s contest at the Tampa Bay Times Forum is the second and final meeting between the cross-conference opponents and also serves as the final game for the Lightning before heading into the All-Star Break. The Bolts will resume play on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at home against the Washington Capitals.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE?
Tampa Bay comes in riding a three-game win streak, but when asked whether or not playing at home Tuesday night and in each of the team’s next four games following the All-Star Break increased the team’s chances of extending the string of consecutive victories, head coach Guy Boucher chose to dismiss the thought all together.
“The last time we won three in a row we went on the road. Now we’ve won three in a row and we’re coming back home,” Boucher said. “I think right now it doesn’t really matter. It’s a question of injuries for us. The guys who have come up have contributed and we’ll need them to continue to contribute, and as for the guys who were already up here, they’re going to have to fight and they’re going to battle.”
The Bolts will be without forwards Ryan Malone, Tom Pyatt and Dana Tyrell for Tuesday’s game, head coach Guy Boucher said Monday.
Boucher also said that Victor Hedman is doing “very well” and has been participating in full workouts.
Hedman, Pyatt, JT Wyman and Adam Hall all skated by themselves Monday morning before the rest of the team took the ice. Ryan Shannon practiced, but did so while still wearing the red no-contact jersey.
For as many injuries that have occurred this season, Boucher still was without reason as to what has caused the string of ailments.
“If it was the same injury for every guy, then you say, ‘well okay, maybe it’s the way we practice, maybe it’s the way we train,’ Boucher said. “But they’re all different. Once you get some kind of tendency, then you can kind of target it, but these are all different. The hockey gods are just whipping us left and right.”
PRAISE FOR PLAYERS
Despite all the injuries, head coach Guy Boucher lauded his team for playing hard and continuing to battle each and every night.
Boucher said he was particularly impressed with the call-ups from Norfolk, most notable JT Wyman, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Trevor Smith.
“They’ve helped us a lot,” Boucher said. “Labrie is playing great out there. He’s a big guy, the players love him, he hits like a train, and he’s smart too which I didn’t know about him, but he’s always in the right position. You know, Smith, too, has been terrific for us the last couple games and Wyman was great too when he came up.”
Boucher also added that while he never likes to see injuries occur in the large numbers that they have this season, the vacant roster spots left open have given him a chance to see the depth the team has in Norfolk.
“There are good things coming out of this,” Boucher said. “Yes we have adversity, but this has allowed us to always keep our eye on building. Whether for the short term or for the long term, we just keep on building.”
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