The Tampa Bay Lightning held an optional morning skate this morning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to prepare for tonight's 7 p.m. puck drop against the Montreal Canadiens.
A few notes leading up to tonight's contest are as follows:
LINEUPS, INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
Cedrick Desjardins will get the start in goal tonight for the Lightning.
Desjardins was recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on March 5 to fill in until Mathieu Garon fully recovers from injury.
It is perhaps no coincidence too, that Desjardins starts on a night when the Canadiens are in town. One of the two games in 2010-11 that Desjardins appeared in was against Montreal, which made for his first career win in the NHL.
Two nights later, Desjardins earned another win, bringing his NHL career record, with which he enters tonight, to 2-0-0 with a .968 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average.
Guy Boucher also likes to push these types of so-called "emotional buttons," where Desjardins would go up against a team he is somewhat familiar with from having played in Hamilton, Montreal's AHL affiliate, for several years.
"We're playing our young guys," Boucher said. "That's for all positions. We feel like we have quality depth and advance in the right direction. Cedrick is one of those guys who has been knocking at the door for years."
As for Garon, Boucher said, "he is coming back soon," and that "he's getting better and better, and is close."
Other than that, the remainder of the lineup will remain the same, although there were some adjustments made, Boucher said, to the lines.
NOTES AND NUMBERS
-Cory Conacher ranks first in assists with 13 and is tied for first with two game-winners among rookies
-Martin St. Louis enters tonight's tilt on a five-game point streak and ranks second in the NHL with 25 assists
-Vincent Lecavalier ranks tied for fifth in the NHL with 268 faceoff wins
-Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell rank second among all NHL teammate trios in assists this season, with a combined total of 59. Only the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang has more with 65.
-Tampa Bay has notched four or more goals in a game in 10 of their first 24 games this season
-The Bolts' plus-7 goal differential ranks first in the Southeast Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference
THEY SAID IT
Guy Boucher, on improving the power play:
"I wouldn't change anything. Last game we just didn't put it in. We hit two posts, we missed an open net and we got robbed on a 5-on-3 with Vinny. It was a mix of the goaltender playing well and us not aiming right. So we're not going to change the plays, we're just going to make sure we're better at them."
Nate Thompson, on making a strong push in the second half of the season:
"The last couple of games we've done a lot of good things, and we don't have much to show for it, but if we keep taking the positives and build on it, I think we can build up a streak of games here and we'll be right back in the pack again."