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Bolts Report: March 23

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

March 23, 2012

Following the Lightning’s 3-2 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers, the team held a brief, optional practice Friday morning in Brandon in preparation for Saturday’s finale of its seven-game home stand against the New York Islanders.

Due to the number of injuries the team currently has, only 13 players suited up and skated.

According to Bolts head coach Guy Boucher, Dwayne Roloson will start in goal again for the Lightning against the Islanders.

Nothing really new here, but Lightning head coach Guy Boucher told reporters on Thursday at the team’s morning skate that captain Vincent Lecavalier and forwards Nate Thompson and Adam Hall are “not close to returning.”

Boucher said that Lecavalier, who has non-displaced fracture in his right hand, did not suffer a setback in terms of how the injury is healing, but rather that the process is just taking longer than initially expected.

Bolts forward Ryan Shannon, meanwhile, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery this week.

Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said he would be open to playing for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships, which will be held May 4-20 in both Finland and Sweden.

Stamkos, 22, last appeared in the annual tournament during the 2009-10 season, which was his second consecutive year of participation after making his World Championship debut in 2008-09.

In 14 combined World Championship games throughout his career, Stamkos has recorded nine goals and 14 points.

The Rocket Richard Trophy race is suddenly heating up, as Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin scored twice on Thursday night in a 5-1 win over Nashville to crawl within just five goals of league-leader Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos has an NHL-best 50 goals this season, but hasn’t recorded a point in four straight games, which is his longest scoreless stretch of the season.

“It's just not going in,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “If he doesn't get chances, we'll worry. But he's getting tons of chances.”

Malkin, meanwhile, has seven goals in his past five games and also holds an 11-point lead over Stamkos in the point standings.

Several Lightning defensemen including Keith Aulie and Mike Commodore have been trying to adjust to playing with a different defensive partner, as head coach Guy Boucher continues to dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

“You got odd numbers on both ends, so it is a little but tough when you roll out there with different people all the time,” Commodore said.

Aulie agreed that it is challenging, but the key, he said, is to be aware of who you’re playing with to pick up on certain tendencies that could help improve the overall rapport on the ice.

No doubt one of the most impressive pick-ups by the Lightning in the offseason was forward Tom Pyatt, who recorded his first career two-goal game Thursday against Edmonton.

Pyatt now has 10 goals on the season, which equals five times his previous single-season high of just two.

His play has not only caught the eye of his teammates, but of the coaching staff as well.

“He’s relentless,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “I know we use that word a lot, but his work ethic is second-to-none. He’s what I call a puck retriever, which is always the type of guy I like to have on my team. He crashes the net and he pays the price in front of the net, so what he lacks in size, he makes up for with his work ethic. Guys like him and Dana Tyrell, they’re very versatile tools for us and they fit in for what we’re trying to do.”

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