After spending three days in Orlando with a mini team orientation, the Tampa Bay Lightning were pleased with the results at the close of camp.
'We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "We got our conditioning levels back up and got the skill level back up by working on battle drills more."
Olympians Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat are expected to re-join the lineup Monday along with Matt Carle, Valtteri Filppula (non-displaced fracture in right ankle) and Tyler Johnson.
Becoming healthy has been a main goal of the Bolts after being injury-ridden for more than the first half of the campaign. Teammates believe it will give Tampa Bay the boost they need to close out the regular season on a solid note.
"It's exciting," Teddy Purcell said. "Guys are starting to get healthy it's coming at the right time. We know these last 24 games left are going to be important, it's a stretch run to the playoffs and they are going to help us out even more."
"I think now that the games are closer it is an exciting time of the season and it will be fun to have a lot more guys out there," Nate Thompson said.
With more bodies on the ice, the Lightning will also increase the intensity in the three practices leading up to Thursday's game versus the Nashville Predators.
"We will have Gudas and Palat back for practice, so we'll be able to have 12 forwards and six defensemen and you can do a lot more drills with bigger numbers," Bowness said.
"It will be nice to get Johnny, Carle and Val back out there too. With their skill level and their experience, practices become more intense and higher tempo. We have to take it to another level on Monday."
The Lightning felt they were in a good state of mind at the end of their time away.
While their first contest back is expected to be a high energy one, the Bolts we'll see how they profited from their retreat on a four-day road trip that begins next week and features the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues in addition to the Predators.
PRACTICES GOING WELL FOR LINDBACK
Not skating until the mini camp began goaltender, Anders Lindback (lower body), said the time off was a major benefit for him and that he felt good on the ice the past three days.
The break was also good for Lindback's confidence, as he said there was not as much pressure to rush back because he was not missing any more games.
While wanting to be ready for Tampa Bay's first tilt back on Thursday, Lindback said his status would remain unclear until closer to Wednesday.
ODD 'N ENDS
- Bolts defenseman Sami Salo collected his third medal in his fourth run at the Winter Games with Team Finland Saturday, defeating the USA 5-0. It was his second Bronze Medal in Olympic play.
- Matt Carle told the media Saturday that he expects to not only practice Monday, but play Thursday in Nashville against the Predators. Carle skated with full pads on Friday prior to the full team practice.