Big day coming for Lecavalier, Kolzig
The Lightning faces the Berlin Eisbarens on Sunday in Germany. Two good stories here.
The first is Vinny Lecavalier, who plays his first game since April's arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn glenoid labrum in his right shoulder. The other is goaltender Olaf Kolzig, a German citizen, who won a championship with the Eisbarens in 2004-05, the year of the NHL lockout.
Kolzig called it a big deal because "other than my mother and brother, the rest of my family lives over there. I played for the national team a number of times. I'm really looking forward to it."
And wondering about the reception he'll get.
"If you have a guy who says they don't, then he's lying to you," Kolzig said. "Of course you do. It's natural. The worst thing that can happen is you're booed and have stuff thrown at you."
Likely won't be the case for Kolzig.
As for Vinny, he said he's looking forward to getting on the ice. His shoulder, he said, is still not 100 percent, but it feels stronger than it has since the surgery. His biggest concern is waiting for that first hit.
"It's a little tougher now, especially with the injury because the first thing I think about is the shoulder," he said. "So, I've got to make sure I look up to see what's coming at me. ... It's a mental thing, but that's how it's going to be. I have to live with it. The doctor said every month it's going to be better and better and maybe by the middle of the season, I won't feel it at all."
Asked what he is looking for from Lecavalier, coach Barry Melrose said, simply, "That he doesn't get hurt. ... He's in good shape, feels strong. It's just a matter of getting up to full speed."
More on Lecavalier in Sunday's paper.
Other practice notes:
Melrose shook up Steve Stamkos' line a bit, dropping right wing Radim Vrbata to a third line with center Jussi Jokinen and Mark Recchi. Evgeny Artyukhin replaced Vrbata with Stamkos. Melrose has said he wants to see more from Vrbata, who hasn't been very visible lately. He also has praised Artyukhin for getting better every game. Why not? This is the time to experiment. It's also a time to send a message to Vrbata that he needs to show more. ... The MVP line of Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal and Marty St. Louis was reunited. Center Chris Gratton played with Gary Roberts and Adam Hall. A fifth line included center Ryan Criag, Nick Tarnasky and bubble players David Koci, Jason Ward and Michel Ouellet. ... Melrose said his players need to be careful to be focused when playing in Berlin and Tuesday in Slovakia. "Are you kidding?" he said. "This is their Stanley Cup." ... Czech native Prospal visited his mother, Kvetoslava Prospalova, Friday night after she underwent surgery, he said, for a problem with varicose veins. "She's like any other older person," Prospal said. "She put it off and put it off until she had to go."
Sunday's lineup: Goaltenders -- Olaf Kolzig, Karri Ramo. Forwards -- Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Vinny Prospal. Steve Stamkos Evgeny Artyukhin, Ryan Malone. Chris Gratton, Adam Hall, Gary Roberts, Jussi Jokinen, Radim Vrbata, Mark Recchi. Defensmen -- Andrej Meszaros (tentative), Matt Carle, Shane O'Brien, Janne Niskala, Mike Lundin, Andrew Hutchinson, Vladimir Mihalik.
Kolzig gets the start and is expected to play the entire game.