Coach Guy Boucher's prayers answered; Tampa Bay Lightning D Eric Brewer to play tonight
On Wednesday, with uncertainty swirling about the health of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer, coach Guy Boucher said he was going to head to church and light a few candles. Well, those prayers apparently were answered as Brewer skated Wednesday morning and said he will play tonight against the Islanders.
"It's just the day-to-day of the season," Brewer said. "There's always something. Everybody is going to have something at some point. It's something I needed to address and stay on top of."
That Brewer is expected to play is good news for a team that is struggling on defense and now believes defenseman Mattias Ohlund, who hasn't skated since Sept. 30 and had arthroscopic surgery on both knees, could be out longer than the four-to-six weeks first anticipated. General manager Steve Yzerman said Ohlund could now be out up to two months.
Brewer said he could have practiced Tuesday (though he didn't) and said he does not anticipate any restrictions ("I sure hope not"), but he did not elaborate on what is bothering him. Brewer had back surgeries in December 2008 and April 2009 to deal with a herniated disc and he said last season he still feels the effects.
Asked if his current problem has to do with his back, Brewer said, "It may or may not, I'm not sure." Asked if he needed any kind of shot or treatment, he again said he wasn't sure.
"It's a low body, high body or whatever," Boucher said. "It's just part of his body. He experienced something that was swelling up and we took care of the swelling. He's going to be okay."
"I don't really feel any worse than I have," Brewer said. "I just think I can feel a little better. I'm not scared of anything or worried about anything. You know how the season goes, you start, it's busy, you have to get your groove and what's going to fit. Everybody has a different program and schedule to follow. I just have to tweak mine a little bit. Once we get back on the road next week and the days start to roll, roll, roll, you have to stay on top of things. ... It's just a matter of chipping away at what works or what hasn't worked or can possibly be changed. Right now I'm not changing anything."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Mathieu Garon gets the start in net. ... Changes from Monday's lineup include Ryan Shannon and Mattias Ritola being scratched and Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt going in. ... Interesting that Boucher said Shannon did not play badly during Monday's loss to the Panthers, but with 14 forwards on the roster, the coach is continuing the rotation to give everybody playing time and to get as much information as possible before rookie Brett Connolly plays his ninth game and the team has to decide to keep him on the roster or send him back to juniors. "There's too many things right now that we need to find out about," Boucher said. "That rotation needs to be. I'm going to keep doing it until we get our answers." ... That explanation is little consolation to Shannon, whom Boucher said has played better. "He doesn't deserve to be taken out, but I only have 12 forwards to put in there," Boucher said. "That's the experiment." ... One reason the Lightning special teams are struggling is lack of puck possession. The team has won just 44.3 percent of faceoffs while shorthanded and just 40.5 percent of faceoffs while on the power play. ... The team leads the league with 104 blocked shots. ... Minor-league defenseman Scott Jackson, who has been rehabbing a surgically repaired knee, is on waivers in order to send him to AHL Norfolk.