March 5, 2012
CHANGE OF PLANS
The Tampa Bay Lightning returned to home ice on Monday following a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes that extended the team’s win streak to four in a row. Rather than holding team practice, however, Head Coach Guy Boucher opted to hold a team meeting instead, while a handful of players skated on their own individually.
Vincent Lecavalier skated Monday morning wearing the red no-contact jersey and could be back as soon as 10 days. The Bolts captain has missed each of the past seven games with a non-displaced hand fracture and is just eight contests shy from skating in his 1,000th career NHL game.
Victor Hedman said he is “100 percent and ready to go,” hinting that there is a possibility he could return to the lineup for the Bolts’ home game on Tuesday night against the Senators.
The undisclosed upper body injury that caused Hedman to miss four games still had not been specified as of Monday, but both the defenseman himself along with Lightning General Manager said last week that it was not a concussion.
Hedman said he consulted with several doctors last week in Michigan, and upon being cleared to play, is anxious to return. “I’ve been taking it one step at a time, I had a good workout today and I feel like I’m in good shape,” Hedman said. “The team is playing very well, and they’re making a run for it, so I’m excited about getting back in the lineup.”
Bolts Head Coach Guy Boucher, when asked how Hedman’s possible return would affect Tuesday’s lineup, said he would have no issue finding a spot for the imposing Swede after he revealed Bruno Gervais will likely be out due to an upper body injury. Leaving the locker room on Monday, Gervais was seen with a large icepack wrapped around his shoulder.
Not quite on the injury front, but still noteworthy, Boucher stated Mathieu Garon would start in net on Tuesday against Ottawa.
A FINE LINE
Jumping off the score sheets lately in the team’s recent games have been the numbers put up by the line of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell.
Since Feb. 16, the trio has combined for 22 goals, 26 assists and 48 points, while the Lightning have gone 7-2-0 in that span.
Purcell attributed the line’s success to being surrounded by great players such as Stamkos and St. Louis, while that pair noted Purcell’s improved confidence with the puck and an increase in the consistency of his game.
Head Coach Guy Boucher, on the other hand, summed up their success in a more uniform manner.
“They’re three skilled players who are very smart, and that makes them tough to handle,” Boucher said. “The reality is they’ve been very dominant, and in their case, all three of them have tried to get that good mix of perimeter play and inside-the-dots play. That’s why they’ve been so successful.”
It was announced on Monday that Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman was appointed to the position of Executive Director for Team Canada’s Men’s National Team for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Two years ago, under Yzerman’s direction as general manager, Team Canada captured its most recent successful showing at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, winning a gold medal on home ice with a 3-2 overtime victory over the United States in the championship match.
The NHL is not yet committed to sending players to Sochi for the 2014 Games, an issue that will be discussed this year for the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NHL Players' Association.
With its 4-3 overtime victory at Carolina on Saturday, Tampa Bay vaulted itself into first place in the NHL for most wins in one-goal games this season with 20.
Even more impressive, each of the Lightning’s past eight wins has come by just a single goal.
“I think a lot of our players learned from last season that we could always hold on and be successful in the tough moments,” Boucher said. “It carried over to this year. I think every morning you wake up and you hope it’s going to be an easy game, but that’s the wrong attitude. You have to be prepared and willing to play in the tight games.”
UNDER THE KNIFE
Marc-Andre Bergeron said Monday that he has elected to have surgery to repair a bulging disc that has been affecting his sciatic nerve. He previously had an operation in 2009 as a member of the Minnesota Wild to address a similar issue.
There is no exact date set as to when the surgery will take place, but Bergeron said he plans to have the operation performed by a specialist in New York, and that the procedure will leave him out for the remainder of the regular season.