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Boucher unsure what kind of team he'll have tonight

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA, Fla. -- When Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher surveyed the locker room after Tuesday's morning skate, he saw an unusual collection of players. There was Mike Commodore and Brian Lee, two defensemen obtained Monday at the trade deadline; Tim Wallace, claimed on waivers Feb 23; and three call-ups from AHL Norfolk -- Brandon Segal, Mike Angelidis and Trevor Smith. Not yet present, but en route from Norfolk, was Evan Oberg.

Missing were Vincent Lecavalier, who will miss his fifth consecutive game Tuesday with a fractured hand; Ryan Shannon and Victor Hedman, both sidelined with upper-body injuries; and Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson and Brendan Mikkelson, all ill with a stomach virus. The virus also hit assistant coach Marty Raymond, who was sent home from practice.

"I've never seen anything like it," Boucher said.

The Lightning open a two-game homestand Tuesday when they host the Montreal Canadiens at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Hanging on to their playoff hopes just six points out of the final post-season spot, Boucher will send out a mixed bag of players, some of whom he knows and some of whom he never has seen on the ice before.

"I don't know who's going to play tonight," Boucher said. "We'll just see what we put on the ice."

On the ice for certain will be two of the three defensemen acquired Monday. Keith Aulie, obtained from the Toronto Maple Leafs, is awaiting a visa, but Commodore and Lee were given a crash course on the Lightning game plan before the morning skate.

"We went over a lot of information; a lot to digest this morning," Lee said. "I'll try to pick it all up this afternoon and then come back and be ready for the game. There are different systems and ideologies here, but at the end of the day, it's still hockey."

Commodore, joining his seventh NHL team in 11 seasons, will be ready to go, but admitted he didn't get much rest Monday.

"I couldn't sleep, so I got to bed around 3 a.m. I was in Tampa by 11 p.m. but I couldn't fall asleep," Commodore said. "A lot happened yesterday. I had a couple of hours to get things packed and catch a flight. Hopefully, I'll get a nap today and be ready to go.

"We had a meeting and the coach went over some stuff, just keeping it simple. From what I've taken from everything this morning, from the coaches to the new gear to not playing in a month, I'm just going to keep it real simple tonight. That will be the number-one thing that I do."

Boucher planned to play his newcomers in tandem on the ice Tuesday.

"We'll play Commodore and Lee together," Boucher said, "since they both won't know what's happening. We'll try to help them both at the same time."

Commodore said the pairing will be "a work in progress."
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