As soon as Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher got word that defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron
had been cleared to play for Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings, he knew that the decisions affecting his game plan were about to get a whole lot tougher.
Boucher, who typically prefers to play seven defensemen, now has eight available with Bergeron's return, thus making for an excess of defensemen crowding the blue line.
cleared to play for Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
"Yeah, it’s a problem," Boucher said, "but it's a good problem to have."
According to the head coach, the sticky situation also is a beneficial one.
With the Feb. 27 trade deadline looming close, Boucher and General Manager Steve Yzerman have organizational depth to manage, affording each a closer look at the team's current personnel. Add in the ability to have some roster flexibility, and the predicament doesn't seem all that bad.
But, with the team having won six of the past seven games, and standing just nine points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Boucher will still have difficult decisions to make.
On one hand, he said, he doesn't want to take guys out of the lineup who have been performing well, and on the other, is cautious about mixing up defensive pairings not to throw off the chemistry that the team has finally seemed to acquire after conquering adversity caused by the slew of injuries it has endured on the blue line.
Still, Boucher remains optimistic.
"Just because there is a cloud in the sky doesn’t mean there's no sun behind it," he added. "We tend to forget that."