EVERYBODY'S WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND
Following a thrilling 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames Thursday night, the Bolts returned to the St. Pete Times Forum Friday to hold a 45-minute practice prior to departing for Columbus via the team's charter flight.
Saturday's game in Columbus is the first of a three-game swing away from home that extends into next week. Due to the three-day span in between games, however, the team will return to Tampa on Sunday before heading out West to San Jose. The Lightning face the Sharks in a late game on Wednesday night and conclude the trip two days later in Colorado in a matchup with the Avalanche.
GARON GOES BACKMathieu Garon
will make the start again in net for tomorrow night's game against the Blue Jackets and is expected to play for a sixth consecutive game.
The contest also marks the first time Garon will return to Columbus to face his former team, with whom he spent each of the past two seasons prior to being acquired by the Lightning during this past offseason.
"I don't expect anything special honestly," Garon said of returning. "It will be a little different though to see players who you used to play with year-round. But it was a fun experience, I had two good years there and my family really loved it, but I've turned the page and now I'm happy to be in Tampa."
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said he does not expect defenseman Matt Gilroy to suit up for tomorrow's game against the Blue Jackets.
Gilroy logged 15:30 in ice time on Thursday against Calgary, but went off with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
"For now, he doesn't look like he will be available," Boucher said.Martin St. Louis
worked out for the first time Friday inside the gym located within the Lightning locker room this morning. With the blood clot now gone from his left eye, St. Louis said he feels "ok" but that his vision is still a little blurry and that depth perception in the eye still needs to improve.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
It was no secret that Steven Stamkos
wanted to take more of a leadership role at the beginning of the season, and according to Boucher, the Lightning forward has succeeded.
"You can see that he really wants it," Boucher said. "He's charging through things, he's not folding, and right away, through his actions, he's been showing that he can go through adversity while charging, and to me that's huge."
Boucher noted he was impressed with Stamkos' ability to be more vocal not only on the ice, but more recently, in the locker room and on the bench. The head coach also credited teammates Vincent Lecavalier
and Martin St. Louis
with helping Stamkos become more of a presence off the ice.
"He's been under Marty's and Vinny's wing a little bit, but now I think that those days are behind," Boucher added. "They did a terrific job with him and I think right now you see the upside of what they've done with him."
December 14, 2011
Following an off-ice team function on Tuesday, the Bolts returned to the confines of the rink for a 90-minute practice Wednesday morning at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Despite speculation that the Lightning are tinkering with the possibility of calling up goaltending prospect Dustin Tokarski from Norfolk, Dwayne Roloson
was on the ice Wednesday participating in drills with enthusiasm and focus. He has also been the subject of numerous positive reviews from teammates and the coaching staff for his commitment to get better every day at practice.
Blair Jones, after being cut around the eye in his first game following his recall last Thursday at Madison Square Garden, was seen sporting a visor at practice, but said unlike a lot of players, he actually doesn't mind wearing one.
Following his own incident, and of course seeing what happened to teammate Martin St. Louis
just hours earlier that very same day, Jones said a lot of his own family members and even the coaching staff have been encouraging him to put the shield to good use.
"I've been whacked in the face a few times this season, so I thought maybe someone was trying to tell me something," Jones said. "I've had a little bug in my ear the last few days telling me to wear it, but I actually had to wear it all the time in the minors anyways so it's not like a huge adjustment."
St. Louis, meanwhile, while not on the ice, was present in the locker room after practice.
Head coach Guy Boucher said that Mathieu Garon
will start in net tomorrow night against Calgary and nothing would change from Monday's game, as he is opting to stick with six defensemen and 12 forwards.
Boucher also went on to say that with the Lightning in the midst of a stretch in which it has lost seven of the past eight games, and coming off a 5-4 loss to New Jersey on Monday, Wednesday's on-ice session was no scenario to hand down punishment.
Rather, Boucher incorporated contests into the drills designed to have one team emerge as the winner, with the thought that it would help the team compete harder if the players recognized the approach as fun and one that was met with enthusiasm.
"I could have gone out there and started yelling and screaming and whipping some butt out there, but is that really going to make a difference? No," Boucher said. "There are moments when you know your team can take it. People think it's the opposite, that when things are going bad that you really have to punish. No, right now our confidence is fragile and it's not a question of them knowing whether or not they can do it. They know they can do it, and I know that nothing great has been accomplished without enthusiasm. So the first few drills were a game and it was important to give the guys and opportunity to have fun, plus, win something too."
BOWLING WITH BRITTANY
Following practice today, Ryan Malone
and Dominic Moore accompanied in-arena host and Lightning feature report Brittany Zion to the bowling alley to shoot a video segment that will be featured on TampaBayLightning.com called "Bowling With Brittany." Fans are encouraged to visit the team's official site in the upcoming days to check out all the action.