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Despite losses, Boucher likes his team's play

by Dave Lozo /
NEW YORK -- The potential loss of Martin St. Louis for Thursday night's game against the Rangers aside, and Lightning coach Guy Boucher feels like his slumping team is turning a corner.

St. Louis took a puck in the face during Thursday's morning skate and went to the hospital for further evaluation. He will likely be out of the lineup for Thursday's game.

This comes on the heels of a 5-1 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, Tampa's fifth-straight defeat. Subtract that loss -- which came after the team got to their hotel at 4 a.m. after losing the night before -- and Boucher likes what he has seen.

"With the way we've been playing, except for last game, yes, definitely," Boucher said. "We have a team that needs to win 2-1 and 1-0 and 3-2 at best. Right now,  we're having a hard time with injuries and finding which guys are going to click. We’ve had more scoring chances in the last eight games than we had in our best games last year. Stamkos has missed seven open nets the last five games. I don't think I've ever seen him do that. But when it's going this way, it's going that way."

Defenseman Pavel Kubina and forward Nate Thompson won't be in the lineup Thursday night. With St. Louis' availability in jeopardy as well, the team will likely recall a forward. But Boucher said there's a possibility he will use seven defensemen and 11 forwards; but there were still too many unknowns when he spoke after the morning skate.

Mathieu Garon was the first goaltender off the ice and will likely start. Dwayne Roloson will serve as the backup.

Line combinations and line rushes went out the window with St. Louis' injury. Now, Boucher probably won't determine in his lineup until right before game time.
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