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Jonathan Drouin adjusts to drop in playing time, different line

Coach Jon Cooper said Jonathan Drouin was thrust into a larger role his first week due to injuries, and now he's with a group "he should be playing with" as he learns to play better without the puck.

AP photo

Coach Jon Cooper said Jonathan Drouin was thrust into a larger role his first week due to injuries, and now he's with a group "he should be playing with" as he learns to play better without the puck.

Touted Lightning wing prospect Jonathan Drouin got off to a fast start in his NHL career, often playing on the top line - and up to 20 minutes - during his first four games.

But on Tuesday, Drouin, 19, was placed on the fourth line with fellow rookies Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov, logging just 11 minutes, 50 seconds, including no power play time. On Thursday against the Flyers, Drouin will be on the same line.

What happened? Coach Jon Cooper said Drouin was thrust into a larger role his first week due to injuries, and now he's with a group "he should be playing with" as he learns to play better without the puck.

Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, is taking the change in stride.

"Everyone is a smart player on this team, so it's pretty easy to play with anyone," Drouin said. "Wherever I fit, wherever I have to  play, it's not a big deal. It's hard to complain.

"I've got some learning to do on a lot of stuff. Playing the fourth line, third line, first line, it's still the NHL." …

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Ryan Callahan's return expected against Washington Capitals

Ryan Callahan was upgraded from week to week to day to day this week as he continues to progress from a lower-body injury.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ryan Callahan was upgraded from week to week to day to day this week as he continues to progress from a lower-body injury.

TAMPA – RW Ryan Callahan had his hardest skate Wednesday since sustaining a lower-body injury on the road trip.

Callahan practiced and skated afterward. He said how he feels tomorrow will determine when he returns to action.

“I don’t see myself playing tomorrow,” Callahan said after Wednesday morning’s practice at Amalie Arena.

Coach Jon Cooper borrowed football terminology, calling Callahan “doubtful” for Thursday’s game against the Flyers but “questionable” for Saturday’s game against Washington.

Callahan was upgraded from week to week to day to day this week” as his body continues to progress.

“Just the way it felt has improved,” Callahan said. “We’ve been hammering it with treatment, rehab. It’s responded well.”

Other notes from today’s practice: …

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Victor Hedman on injury: 'I knew it was bad'

TAMPA – When D Victor Hedman blocked the shot that broke his finger earlier this month, he immediately knew the injury was severe, even if the adrenaline kept him from feeling much pain.

“When I took off my glove,” Hedman said, “I knew it was bad.”

Hedman is still recovering from the right-hand injury he sustained in the Oct. 18 win over Vancouver. He had surgery – which included a few pins – two days later and has begun the rehab process that could keep him out for another month.

Hedman has watched the Lightning practice each of the last two days. He said it’s been tough to watch from the sidelines, but he learned how to stay positive after seeing how C Steven Stamkos worked his way back from a broken leg last year.

“It was obviously something I haven’t dealt with before…” Hedman said. “Just looking at Stammer last year, his mentality with what he went through. They’re not even close, how bad it was for him. Just looking at him, you have to keep your spirit up and just try to work hard to get back as fast as you can.”

Hedman, 23, had three goals and four assists in five games before the injury. …

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Ryan Callahan expected to play this week

Ryan Callahan hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury in an Oct. 20 loss at Edmonton.

AP photo

Ryan Callahan hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury in an Oct. 20 loss at Edmonton.

TAMPA – RW Ryan Callahan skated with the Lightning on Tuesday morning and is getting closer to returning to action.

“He’s gone from week to week to day to day,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after Tuesday’s morning skate, before tonight’s home game against the Coyotes.

Callahan hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury in an Oct. 20 loss at Edmonton.

The 29-year-old Callahan won’t play tonight, but Cooper said he’ll be “bummed out” if Callahan doesn’t play this week – either Thursday night against the Flyers or Saturday against Washington.

“I would say if it was up to Ryan, he’d be playing tonight,” Cooper said. “But it’s not up to him. Our medical staff has got to clear a few hurdles.”

Other quick hits from today’s morning skate:

RW Brett Connolly (lower body) is no longer considered week to week. Cooper said Connolly’s injury is now somewhere between week to week and month to month – “fortnight to fortnight,” Cooper called it after a suggestion from reporters.

Cooper said there’s a “very, very, very good chance” C Alex Killorn and RW J.T. Brown both play tonight after returning from injuries. Both skated Tuesday morning. …

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Alex Killorn, J.T. Brown expected to play Tuesday

TAMPA – The Lightning reassigned forwards Mike Blunden and Jonathan Marchessault to Syracuse on Monday, general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Both players had short stints with the Lightning. Blunden has appeared in two games this season, while Marchessault made his team debut in Saturday night’s 7-2 loss at Minnesota.

The move comes as the team seems to be getting healthier. Alex Killorn (upper body) and J.T. Brown (upper body) both participated in Monday morning’s practice, and both are expected to play Tuesday night when the Lightning hosts the Coyotes.

“We certainly hope so,” associate coach Rick Bowness said.

Brown said everything is “so far, so good” after skating Monday morning at Amalie Arena.

Monday’s lines: Killorn/Filppula/Stamkos, Palat/Johnson/Kucherov, Drouin/Namestnikov/Paquette and Morrow/Boyle/Brown.

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Team Canada surprises Stamkos with gold-medal ring

With the Lightning practicing at Team Canada’s facility near Calgary on Thursday, several players took the opportunity to check out its Hall of Champions, which had the trophies and photos from championships won.

But captain Steven Stamkos got a special parting gift.

Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s vice president of hockey operations, surprised Stamkos by giving him one of the rings presented to members of Canada’s gold-medal-winning team at this year’s Olympics. Stamkos was selected for the team but didn’t play due to a broken right leg suffered in November.


“That was pretty classy. I didn’t expect that, especially after everything that went on,” Stamkos said. “They said I was named to the team and worked hard, tried to get there. I didn’t get to play, but it’s still something I’ll keep pretty near and dear to my heart.”

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Lightning recall Marchessault, Blunden

With injuries continuing to deplete the Lightning roster, the team called up forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Mike Blunden from AHL Syracuse this morning.

Already without three regulars - Ryan Callahan, Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman - the Lightning lost two more forwards during Friday night's 4-2 win in Winnipeg. Wings J.T. Brown (upper body) and Brett Connolly (lower body) got hurt in the first period and did not return for the second. Brown got checked, with his head getting driven to the boards. Coach Jon Cooper said he doubted either could play tonight against the Wild in the second game of a back-to-back, and final game in a 10-day road trip.

For Blunden, it's been a whirlwind week, called up Tuesday morning and put in the lineup against Calgary, before getting sent down Thursday, before getting called right back up. Marchessault, acquired from Columbus earlier this year, was one of the last training camp cuts. Expect Blunden, Marchessault and Cedric Paquette to all be in the lineup as the Lightning wants to roll four lines. …

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Callahan skates, but still week-to-week; Paquette called up

There was a surprise late arrival for the Lightning's morning skate Friday, with RW Ryan Callahan jumping on the ice near the end.

"Cally!" one player yelled.

It was the first time Callahan, 29, skated since suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Monday's game. Callahan was cautious in his strides, and did some shooting, with coach Jon Cooper saying the veteran is still "week-to-week."

But for Callahan, it was an encouraging first step.

"It means it's progressing," Callahan said. "It's healing like it should."

Callahan said the injury happened on a "real innocent play," and he tried staying in the game for another shift, but "I realized it wasn't going to happen."

With the relentless, gritty style Callahan plays, it can lead to injuries; he missed 17 games last season. But Callahan, in the first year of a six-year, $34.8 million deal, said it's "definitely frustrating" to be sitting out. …

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Gudas could return Friday, Killorn getting closer

The Lightning got some encouraging news on the injury front Thursday, with defenseman Radko Gudas and wing Alex Killorn returning to practice.

Gudas, out since Oct 14 with a lower body injury, said he feels much better and is ready to play Friday vs Jets. He was paired with Jason Garrison at Thursday's practice in Calgary. Coach Jon Cooper said Gudas could return tomorrow.

Killorn has been out since suffering an upper body injury sliding into the boards in Monday's morning skate in Edmonton. Killorn said he lost his footing when taking a pass and hit his shoulder/head hard into the boards. He says it was a scary moment, feeling fortunate it wasn't worse. Killorn said he had no concussion symptoms and while he's feeling better, not likely to return Friday.

Doesn't sound like Ryan Callahan is close to returning. He hasn't skated since suffering a lower body injury in the second period Monday.

If Gudas does play Friday and comes off injured reserve, D Luke Witkowski could get sent back to Syracuse in the AHL. …

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For Palat, game-winner was redemption

Lightning wing Ondrej Palat said he beat himself up after his turnover led to the Oilers' winning goal late in the third period Monday.

"I felt terrible," he said. "I know I owed the team something."

Palat certainly delivered Tuesday, picking up the game-winning goal in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime victory over the Flames in Calgary. Three minutes into overtime, Palat pounced on a rebound off a point shot from Anton Stralman and put it past goalie Karri Ramo.

"I'm very happy," he said. "I made a bad play (Monday) and that can't happen, it's my fault. But after the game I turned the page."

So did the Lightning (4-2-1), which came so close to getting shut out and losing on back to back nights. But after getting stifled by the Flames defense for most of the game, Tampa Bay finally got some second-shot opportunities, with center Valtteri Filppula tapping in a loose puck in the crease after a Jason Garrison point shot with two minutes left in regulation to force overtime.

"For 58 minutes, we didn't make Ramo make a second save," coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't know how many shots we had, but they were all first saves. Save, whistle, save, whistle. And then we actually got traffic in front." …

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Lightning recall Blunden from Syracuse, Gudas to IR

With the Lightning losing two wings to injury Monday, it called up forward Mike Blunden Tuesday from AHL Syracuse.

While Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Marchessault were also options, Blunden, at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, brings some needed size for a game tonight against a physical Flames team in Calgary.

Blunden, 27, has two goals and three assists in four games for the Crunch this season. He's played in 102 career NHL games over parts of seven seasons with the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Blue Jackets, signing with the Lightning July 1.

Tampa Bay was short on forwards after Alex Killorn suffered an upper-body injury crashing into the boards during Monday's morning skate; he's day to day. Veteran wing Ryan Callahan then had a lower body injury in the second period of Monday's 3-2 loss to the Oilers and didn't return.

Coach Jon Cooper said after Monday's game that it would take a "miraculous" recovery for either Killorn or Callahan to play tonight. The Lightning's corresponding move to create a spot for Blunden was putting defenseman Radko Gudas on injured reserve; he hasn't played since Oct. 13 due to a lower body injury.  …

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Drouin will make NHL debut tonight

Turns out, touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin will make his NHL debut tonight against the Oilers after all.

While coach Jon Cooper insisted this morning Drouin would not play, things must have changed due to the status of wing Alex Killorn, who took a scary spill into the boards during today's morning skate. Cooper said Killorn was okay, just got the wind knocked out of him, but the team said Killorn is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was called up Sunday after playing two games on a conditioning assignment with Syracuse in the American Hockey League. With Drouin playing Friday and Saturday, and traveling all day Sunday, Cooper wanted to hold him out one more day.

Drouin missed all of preseason and training camp due to a fractured right thumb, but after two games in Syracuse, said he felt physically perfect and ready to go.

 

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Purcell says it'll be "weird" to face Lightning

For wing Teddy Purcell, it felt like old times Sunday afternoon, watching football with most of the Lightning team during lunch.

But Purcell, 29, is now with the Oilers thanks to a June trade, so he made sure to treat 5-6 former Tampa Bay teammates, including good buddy, captain Steven Stamkos, for dinner in their first night in Edmonton.

"I figured they came to my town,  I had to pay for it," Purcell said, smiling. "So I hope to go to a little bit nicer restaurant in Tampa so Stammer can pay."

Purcell spent five seasons in Tampa Bay, including racking up a career-high 24 goals in 2011-12. But the Lightning, looking to create cap space heading into free agency (as well as spots in their lineup for young players like Brett Connolly and Jonathan Drouin), traded Purcell to Edmonton for Sam Gagne on July 29th. Purcell carries a $4.5 million cap hit this year and next.

Purcell said initially the trade came as a "shock." But it started to sink in weeks later when Purcell was packing up in Tampa and new Lightning center Brian Boyle, who took over Purcell's leased place in town, sent him pictures in a thank-you message.

"That really sunk in, it wasn't mine anymore," Purcell said.

But Purcell said he and general manager Steve Yzerman had a good conversation the night of the trade.

"He was really respectful," Purcell said. "They wanted to shed some salary and go after some defensemen and that's what they did. In a salary cap world, that's what happens. But I'm happy to be here and put that behind me. And at the same time, I had five great years in Tampa." …

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Drouin won't play tonight

Touted Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin likely will make his debut Tuesday in Calgary.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Touted Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin likely will make his debut Tuesday in Calgary.

Lightning touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin willl have to wait another day for his anticipated NHL debut.

Though Drouin, 19, was recalled Sunday from his conditioning assignment with AHL Syracuse, coach Jon Cooper said he won't play tonight against the Oilers. Cooper said with Drouin playing both Friday and Saturday in Syracuse, and having a long travel day Sunday, they won't rush him into the lineup. He will play on this trip, likely Tuesday in Calgary.

Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, was excited to join the team, participating in Monday's morning skate. He said he found out when he woke up to a text from general manager Steve Yzerman Sunday morning, figuring it was good news.

"I'm happy to be back," Drouin said. "Whenever I play, I'll be ready."

Drouin, who missed the entire preseason and training camp with a fractured right thumb, said he physically feels "perfect," getting his timing down in two games with the Crunch. Drouin had a goal, the game-winner Friday, along with two assists and a plus-four rating. …

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Hedman out 4-6 weeks

Victor Hedman will have surgery Tuesday, with the Lightning having to play without its top defenseman potentially through November.

AP photo

Victor Hedman will have surgery Tuesday, with the Lightning having to play without its top defenseman potentially through November.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will be out 4-6 weeks due fractured finger in his right hand.

Hedman, 23, will have surgery Tuesday, with the Lightning having to play without its top defenseman potentially through November. He suffered the injury during the second period of Saturday's 4-2 win over Vancouver. Tampa Bay felt fortunate in that it could have been worse.

"If it's ligaments, then you have no idea what you're dealing with," coach Jon Cooper said. "If you're getting clean breaks, that's just a fix it up, stabilize and wiat for it to heal and he'll be back. It's just really unfortunate for Heddy because how good a player he's becoming and what a great start he had. But injuries happen and we're going to have to weather the storm for a month."

Hedman was off to a strong start this season, racking up seven points in his first four games. With Hedman out, Anton Stralman will take his spot on the first power play unit, with veterans Jason Garrison, Matt Carle and Eric Brewer depended on even more. 

The Lightning face the Oilers on Monday night in Edmonton. 

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