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Even though it was close to 2 a.m. when the Lightning arrived at the hotel in Pittsburgh this morning, the team went to the rink today for a meeting after last night’s disappointing loss against the Islanders. The roster continues to evolve today, with wing Gary Roberts coming off IR and inserted into the lineup tonight. Mike Smith goes on IR to make room, while Matt Pettinger and Ryan Craig look to be healthy scratches tonight. Marek Malik and Paul Szczechura remain on IR but skated this morning.
Jussi Jokinen departed the arena on his own before the meeting, and Lightning GM Brian Lawton said Jokinen is being placed on waivers and is returning to Tampa. We’ll know his fate by tomorrow at noon.
Goaltender Mike McKenna looked solid in relief last night, and for that he earned his first NHL start tonight. McKenna seems unflappable, which will be a good thing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin staring him down tonight.
Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet put the players on notice with his comments this morning.
“I didn't see desperation in some guys,” Tocchet said of last night’s loss. “I saw a little bit of a step back in some players.
“Now were playing a desperate team that lost last night. If the light bulb’s not on for some guys, we've got to make some decisions.”