January 30, 2012
RESTED AND READY TO GO
Following a six-day hiatus due to the All-Star Break, the Lightning returned to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for a rare evening practice that began at 6 p.m. on Monday night.
Victor Hedman, Ryan Shannon and Tom Pyatt all skated with the team, as did JT Wyman, although while wearing a red no-contact jersey.
Ryan Malone, Adam Hall and Marc-Andre Bergeron did not skate Monday night, but were present at the Times Forum.
“It’s definitely good to see some of these top guys back and ready to go,” head coach Guy Boucher said. As long as there are bodies in uniforms, I’m happy.”
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher told the media Monday night that Mathieu Garon would get the start in net on Tuesday against the Capitals.
Boucher also said that Victor Hedman, Ryan Shannon and Tom Pyatt have all been cleared to play and will appear in Tuesday’s game. Ryan Malone and Marc-Andre Bergeron were ruled out and will not play. As for JT Wyman, Boucher gave a brief response and left the forward call-up’s status at a solid “maybe.”
Hedman perhaps is the most intriguing of those players returning, as he fills a huge hole that had been present in the Lightning’s top defensive pairing.
While Hedman, though, said that he “feels good and is ready to play,” Boucher said he wouldn’t necessarily give him top minutes Tuesday night as a precautionary measure.
“The truth is he hasn’t played in a long, long time,” Boucher said. “So we aren’t necessarily going to throw him right in there against the top lines and ask him to play 28, 29 minutes. We’re going to be slow in getting him in there and giving him minutes he can handle.”
HANG THOSE HEADS HIGH
On Monday, Guy Boucher praised his team for staying optimistic through the slew of injuries and adversity it had faced prior to putting together its current string of four consecutive victories.
Boucher said he believed the confidence among each individual and team cohesiveness helped turn the seven-game losing streak around and got them started on its current path towards a playoff push.
“People ask me how we won four games in a row, and I say because we don’t look at it like four games,” Boucher said.
“We see it as one game and we keep the scope of things very small. We don’t see the broad picture and it has certainly made a difference.”
Steven Stamkos was the target of some playful criticism from teammates and media on Monday after the Lightning forward showcased his crafty shootout moves in the 2012 NHL All-Star Skills Competition over the weekend in Ottawa.
Stamkos has not made a single shootout attempt this season, going 0-for-3, and also failed to score on each his seven opportunities during the 2010-11 campaign. On Saturday night at Scotiabank Place, however, the Lightning forward converted on all three tries to be crowned the champion in that specific challenge.
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