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Practice was in Brandon this morning to make way for tonight’s Champions Dinner charity event on the ice at the St. Pete Times Forum. Since training camp was held at the Forum this year, it was the first visit to Brandon for many of the coaches and players. The team went through a 75-minute workout and winning battles was once again a focus.
The team received some good news today with defenseman Paul Ranger declaring after the skate that he was ready to go for Thursday night’s game against the Islanders. The additions of Ranger and Lukas Krajicek, along with the rumored arrival of Marek Malik, could present a much different look at the back for the Lightning. Taking some of the defensive burden off young players such as Mike Lundin, Matt Carle and Janne Niskala can only help in the long run as the defense grows into a cohesive unit.
Head coach Barry Melrose said he hasn’t decided who will be scratched Thursday to make room for Ranger, who he expects will play in the 15 minute range. He left the door open for Ranger to play more if his performance warrants it.
Speaking of ice time, Melrose said he’s planning to find ways to give more ice time to rookie Steven Stamkos
, who was lost in the shuffle a bit in Saturday’s penalty-ridden contest. Melrose said the coaching staff is still determining which situations Stamkos can handle, and that he’d like to see him skating 12-15 minutes a night (with some power play time) at this early point in his career.