Cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle
Standing in the Lightning locker room Friday at GM Place in Vancouver, it didn't take long to hear coughing over here, sneezing and sniffling over there. Forward Ryan Craig sounded like a foghorn when he spoke. A cold bug has gripped the Lightning players and staff. Craig said if you polled the players today, about half are suffering.
Craig said he actually feels pretty good: "I'm just really stuffed up."
Goaltender Karri Ramo said he already is over the worst of what he went through, which included sinus stuffed so badly, his ears clogged during last week's plane ride to Carolina and did not clear after landing.
"For three days I couldn't sleep because I was coughing," he said.
Coach Rick Tocchet said every team goes through it during a season: "With the planes and stuff, it's all incubated together.
Other stuff from this morning: Ramo gets the start in net. ... Right wing Evgeny Artyukhin, who slammed into the end boards during Thursday's practice and left the ice dragging his left leg, said he is fine and will play. ... Tocchet said D Lukas Krajicek, who missed three games with a sore right hip, has a bad enough respiratory infection that he might not play. That leaves the rest of the lineup in flux because if Krajicek is out, left wing David Koci will play defense, forcing a change among the forwards. ... Tocchet said he will start the game with Steven Stamkos centering a line with right wing Marty St. Louis and Mark Recchi. Tocchet said it was time to shake up the lines as some players were getting stale (evidenced by only 128 shots on goal the past five games), and Stamkos deserves to play with St. Louis because is game has been elevated. Then there is the matter of the team allowing at least 40 shots for five straight games. "You try to find combinations of guys who will be responsible, who'll hold on to the puck and not throw it away," Tocchet said. ... Vinny Lecavalier will center a line with left wing Ryan Malone and Vinny Prospal. ... How do you beat a goalie like Roberto Luongo? "It's like any of those great goalies, you're shooting perimeter shots, you're making it an easy night for him," Tocchet said. "I'm a big believer in getting wraps, getting pucks to the net. If you're behind the net, just take the puck to the net. These guys don't get rattled too often but maybe it rattles them a little." ... Co-owner Len Barrie, who lives on neighboring Vancouver Island, said he has 61 friends and family coming to the game. Craig, who grew up 40 miles away in Abbotsford, has 30. ... Angelina Lawton, wife of GM Brian Lawton, has been hired by owner Oren Koules as the Lightning's head of corporate communications. She is responsible for designing the season-ticket renewal brochures that went out today.