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Carle, Filppula and Johnson All Make An Appearance On Ice Friday

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

While Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper's update on Matt Carle, Valtteri Filppula and Tyler Johnson included none of them being ready to practice in Orlando with the team, they all managed to put on skates and take to the ice Friday.

Albeit the trio was unable to practice alongside their Bolts teammates, it was a positive sign with the tough schedule the Lightning will face immediately when they return to their season slate next week.

Carle, who has been practicing off the ice with strength and conditioning coach Mark Lambert, skated in full pads prior to Tampa Bay's practice and continued his off-ice workouts with Filppula and Johnson thereafter.

The latter two then skated separately after the Bolts left the ice.

"I felt pretty good, not great, but yesterday was rough, so it felt good to get skating a little bit," Filppula said. "My ankle feels a little weak, so once it starts feeling stronger, even if it's a little sore, then it won't be too bad."

"I felt rusty," Johnson said. "I didn't take too much time off, but it's harder to get your hands and your timing back into it. It's exciting to get back into the season and I'm ready to go."

Two mainstays on the roster despite the injury bug hitting many of their teammates, Filppula and Johnson have been vital to the Lightning's continued success despite the adversity.

Filppula fractured his right ankle and was given a three week prognosis to heal. In too much pain to skate Thursday, he said he's hoping to participate in a full team skate by Monday after feeling much better today.

"I want to practice on Monday," Filppula said. "Get a few good days in before we play. If it goes until Wednesday before I can practice with the team I think it would be tough to play Thursday."

Johnson also said he is not expecting to miss anytime.

While they got the benefit of more time to rehab, Filppula and Johnson both said the pause in action provided them with a nice break from the daily grind of an NHL season.

"It was fun just to be home with family and friends and get away from the game a little bit," Johnson said.

And though Filppula was extremely disappointed in missing the Olympics, knowing he was not missing any of Tampa Bay's schedule did help.

"Knowing I couldn't make the Olympics made the beginning tough," Filppula said. "It took a while to get over that, but at the same time the season here is really important and hopefully not missing any games is what I'm focusing on."

Filppula and Johnson along with Carle will continue to make strides to be on the ice after Tampa Bay's mini-camp comes to a close Saturday at RDV Sportsplex in Orlando.


Sami Salo and Team Finland upset the host country, Russia, 3-1 in the quarterfinals and faced Sweden early Friday morning , however they could not overcome a one-goal deficit, falling to Sweden, 2-1, in the semifinal round.

"It was a tough loss today, but the tournament's not over yet," Filppula said. "They played pretty well and the game could have gone either way. I feel bad for the guys, but it's been a good tournament so far, so hopefully they can get a medal."

Salo will appear in the Bronze Medal game against the USA with Finland Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m.


Cooper was noticeably absent from practice Friday as he was en route to Green Bay to drop the puck and be honored by the Gamblers during tonight's game versus the Youngstown Phantoms.

"I'm really excited to go back," Cooper said. "They hold a special place in my heart and it wasn't just on the ice, the organization, the friends, the city, it was a tough place to leave. A place I had to leave at some point to further my career, but a tough place to leave. It's going to be a quick 24 hours there, but I'm really looking forward to it."

Cooper coached the Gamblers from the 2008 to the 2010 season. Associate coach, Rick Bowness, took over for Cooper with the Bolts Friday during practice.

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