Big decisions looming for Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher as D Randy Jones is "ready to play"
The Tampa bay Lightning will get a boost on the blue line for its first-round playoff series with the Penguins as Randy Jones, who missed the last 16 games of the regular season with a high ankle sprain is "ready to play," coach Guy Boucher said.
That, however, gives the Lightning nine defensemen on the roster, and that means Boucher will have some decisions to make when it comes to filling out a roster for Game 1 Wednesday with the Penguins.
Does Boucher go with six defensemen as he has since Ryan Malone and Steve Downie returned from injury, or does he go with seven. It is an interesting question, and Boucher made it more interesting last week when he said that when the decisions were close he would give preference to players who have been with the team since the beginning of the season because there should be some loyalty to guys who have bought in from the start.
That certainly won't affect Eric Brewer, who has a goal and two points, is plus-5 and is averaging 21:34 of ice time in 22 games since he was acquired from the Blues. But it could affect Marc-Andre Bergeron. Brought in as a free agent and power-play specialist, Bergeron has just two goals and eight points in 23 games and is minus-10 while averaging 14:19 of ice time.
Usually plus-minus is a misleading stat, but Bergeron has really struggled defensively. And considering how quick the Penguins are, especially on the transition, Bergeron may be a candidate to be scratched.
On another topic, a malignant brain tumor doesn't seem to be slowing down assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who apparently has been texting the coaching staff between periods of games with his observations. Boucher said he has been talking on the phone with Fleming, and even had a sit-down with him on Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"He hasn't ruled himself out, and we haven't ruled him out at all," Boucher said about Fleming rejoining the team during the playoffs. "We know it's going to be tough for us sometimes not being able to reach him, but at the same time we know he's here. He's present.
Said captain Vinny Lecavalier: "We want to definitely play for him."