A familiar face, Andrej Sustr, re-joined the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) and participated in Saturday's morning skate.
With blueliner Michael Kostka concussed and sidelined indefinitely, Sustr will be slated into the lineup tonight.
"He's very calm with the puck and has a lot of hockey sense," associate coach Rick Bowness said.
The Lightning initially reassigned Sustr on January 16 so the towering defenseman could get more experience and minutes. Though a shoulder injury kept him to just 12 games played with the Crunch, Sustr was able to work on strengthening his lower body.
"Injuries are part of hockey," Sustr said, "so I just focused on things I could work on and want to continue to play where I left off. I think I was playing good hockey up to the point I was sent down."
The coaching staff agreed that Sustr demonstrated his ability to play in the NHL prior to being sent down and believes he will be in the league for many years to come.
Sustr said he was exicted to join the Lightning with the postseason around the corner and acknowledged that there's still "work to be done."
STRIKING A PERFECT BALANCE
Each of Tampa Bay's defensive pairs are usually setup with one right-handed and one left-handed defenseman. For example Victor Hedman (left-handed shot) is paired with Sami Salo (right-handed shot).
The Lightning said they favorite this combination because they believe the puck moves better in all zones of the ice and the defense can change shooting angles without being read as quickly by their opponent.
That means that there is a good chance Sustr, who shoots right-handed, will be paired with defenseman Eric Brewer, who shoots the opposite. Brewer was also paired with Kostka before he was injured.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Ondrej Palat became the fourth Bolt to reach the 20-goal plateau with the lone goal of the game for the Lightning Thursday.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Palat and Tyler Johnson are the first rookie duo to each score 20 goals since Jonathan Toews (24) and Patrick Kane (21) did so for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007-08.
Johnson's 20th goal of the season came on March 10 versus the Phoenix Coyotes. He is also tied (Nathan MacKinnon) for the league lead for goals among rookies with 23, while Palat's 20 are good for third in the same category.
ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW
"They are a team really similar to ours and their goaltender had a great year. He plays the puck a lot, maybe got too happy with it last game, but I think sometimes when you live with your goaltender making those plays, you have to accept a few mistakes along the way."
-Stars head coach Lindy Ruff on the Tampa Bay Lightning
OTHER ODDS 'N ENDS
- Ben Bishop will start in net tonight for the Lightning. As for continuing to play Bishop, Bowness said to get home ice advantage they need to play their best players.
- Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, B.J. Crombeen, Cody Kunyk and Richard Panik were the last players on the ice at morning skate, but Bowness said there may be game-time changes.
- Saturday's game will be broadcast locally on CW44 (channel 4 or 1004 for HD) starting at 7 p.m. (no pre-game).
- Forward Adam Erne notched an assist in his first game with the Crunch Friday. Syracuse defeated the Albany Devils 2-1.