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Lightning rookie Drouin could play in Game 2

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin could be inserted in the lineup for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Blackhawks won Game 1 on Wednesday, 2-1, and have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Drouin, the third pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, had four goals and 28 assists in 70 games during the regular season. He has played in three games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and has no points with a minus-4 rating. Drouin hasn't played since Game 4 in the second round against the Montreal Canadiens on May 7.

"I'm in for warm-ups, and we'll see from there," Drouin said. "It's exciting. I watched the first game and it was high tempo, and I expect it will be an exciting game [Saturday]."

Drouin said he was told about the plan to go through warm-ups Saturday morning. He said he's kept himself in shape waiting for this opportunity and understands the magnitude of playing in a Cup Final.

"I've been working hard in the gym and on the ice for a chance like this," Drouin said. "These are the two most skilled teams in the NHL, guys like [Tyler] Johnson, [Patrick] Kane, [Steven] Stamkos, and they are moving the puck up the ice. There is a lot of speed out there. They want to trust me in the [defensive] zone. I want to be a player that can be put in any situation."

Cooper would not confirm Drouin's place in the lineup Saturday.

"You have to show up to the game to see who's going to play," Cooper said. "But [Drouin], he's a talented player. We've watched him grow this season. He gives us a different look when he's in the lineup."

If Cooper decided to play Drouin, it's possible he would return to a lineup of 12 forwards and six defensemen. If he decided to stick with 11 forwards and seven defenseman, Drouin would likely replace forward J.T. Brown.

Cooper said if Drouin plays he expects him to give a strong effort.

"It's hard to sit here and say what you expect," Cooper said. "I'm not going to sit here and say I expect every single guy on our team to have a hat trick tonight and to win. What would that be, 20 [guys], 60-0? It doesn't work out that way. We expect our guys to produce, stick to our structure, play as hard as you can, look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, 'I have no regrets.' If he's in, that's what I expect."

Cooper may also have a decision on which six defensemen he would play. Nikita Nesterov has been considered the seventh defenseman but he's a major part of the power play for the Lightning. Nesterov has a goal, five assists, and is plus-5 in 15 playoff games.

The other option to come out would likely be Matthew Carle, who has three assists and is minus-9 in 20 playoff games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane

Kris VersteegBrad RichardsMarian Hossa

Patrick SharpAntoine VermetteTeuvo Teravainen

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Kyle CumiskeyBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaDavid Rundblad

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Ville Pokka, Phillip Danault, Ryan Hartman, Joakim Nordstrom, Viktor Svedberg, Kimmo Timonen, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Injured: Bryan Bickell (undisclosed)


Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan

Jonathan Drouin - Cedric Paquette - Brenden Morrow

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Nikita Nesterov, Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov

Injured: none

Status report: Johnson was among the 16 players that participated in the optional morning skate.

Who's hot: Killorn scored a goal in Game 1 and has scored in the past two games.

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