Boucher says tonight's game with Penguins "our biggest test yet"
The Lightning get a big break tonight in Pittsburgh with reigning MPV Evgeni Malkin out, as he’s monitored for concussion-like symptoms.
But the Penguins pose more than enough problems, especially as Tampa Bay prepares to face the conference’s No. 2 seed while in the second game of a back-to-back.
“This is our biggest test,” Boucher said. “They’re waiting for us. We’re going to need to be good and lucky.”
Tampa Bay, which moved into sole possession of first place in the Southeast with a win over Carolina Saturday night, has been playing well. But Boucher said they’ll need to play a very smart game, with very short shifts to sustain the kind of effort they need. Even without Malkin, the Penguins boast James Neal, who is tied with Steven Stamkos for the league-lead in goals (12) on a line with Sidney Crosby.
“I’m very aware that this is a mountain to climb,” Boucher said.
More stuff from the morning skate: G Anders Lindback said he will start tonight against the Penguins. Boucher continued to praise G Mathieu Garon, played extremely well in Saturday’s win over Carolina... There will be one lineup change, with D Keith Aulie returning after missing the last two games due to an illness. Aulie had to regain the 10 pounds he lost, but has regained his strength and won’t be held back tonight. “He’s going to be the only fresh guy on our team,” Boucher said.. Rookie wing Richard Panik said he received several messages from buddies about his highlight-reel, first NHL goal Saturday night...Boucher loves how his third-line is playing, especially rookie Alex Killorn: "He's doing it all right now, first on puck, defensive awareness, offensive drive, physicality, smarts." Assistant Steve Thomas rejoined the team Sunday morning exhausted, thanks to a 2:50 a.m. wakeup call, but was excited he got to see his son, Christian, 20, make his NHL debut Saturday night for the Rangers. Thomas arrived in Montreal with two minutes left in the first period and was pleased with how Christian played, logging over 12 minutes on a line with Brad Richards. “The coolest thing is his first NHL game at the Montreal forum, Hockey Night in Canada, actually did interviews between the second and third period on Hockey Night in Canada,” Thomas said. “It was a long day, but I made it.”
- JOE SMITH