D Pavel Kubina, after 3-game suspension, is a game-time decision for Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher has a difficult decision for tonight's game with the Canadiens. With defenseman Pavel Kubina finished with his three-game suspension for elbowing Chicago's David Bolland, should he come right back into the lineup?
It is not a black-and-white decision. The Lightning played well in beating Toronto Monday night, so perhaps Boucher does not want to disrupt a working lineup. But Kubina also still has a bit of a groin issue. True, he played with it before the suspension, but Boucher said the time Kubina has had off has greatly helped reduce the soreness, so why not give him a few more days off?
"We were going to do it at some point or another to give him some time off," Boucher said. "(The groin) is not perfect yet. So, he's available for the game and he wants to play. Medically, he'll get by the game if he plays, but if he gets it off it will be good for him, too."
Kubina, who has three goals, 19 points and is plus-2 while averaging 19:46 of ice time in 67 games, said he would be disappointed if he did not play.
"I've missed three games and it's been a long week for me," he said. "I was looking forward to getting back and battling in the huge games coming up. ... Injuries are part of the game, and the guys played great last game. There's nothing I can do about it."
Other stuff from the morning: Marc-Andre Bergeron, who played for the Canadiens last season, is really looking forward to tonight's game. It is the second time the defenseman has faced Montreal this season, though the first time in Tampa, he was slowed considerably by back spasms and did not play much or well. Healthy now, Bergeron wants to put on a show for the team that did not re-sign him after his knee surgery. "Even before I played for the Canadiens it was always a special game," said Bergeron, a Quebec native. "Getting a chance to play in front of your family and friends and people you know is always special. Now, that I played for the Canadiens it makes it even more special, I guess. I have to stay focused and play good. That's the only thing I can do." Bergeron said the atmosphere will be like a playoff game. "I'm sure I'll be nervous early on," he said. ... Bergeron said being moved off the top power-play unit with Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis to a second unit is not a big deal. "I'm playing the same position," he said. "Form me, I like to shoot. That's what I'm good at. That's my best asset. I'm trying to get in position so I can use it. It doesn't matter who I'm playing with." ... Defenseman Brett Clark is back on the first unit. Clark offers a unique problem for opponents. Even though he is a defenseman, he finds his way to the front of the net a lot. ... On the injury front, Boucher said right wing Steve Downie, who will miss his seventh game tonight with ankle and knee problems, should be available to play by the end of next week. Boucher is still sticking with April for Ryan Malone, who will miss his 16ht game tonight with a torn stomach muscle. "We're getting there slowly," Boucher said. "But you know how it is, once we get them, somebody else will be out." ... Boucher said he always shows video of opposing goalies to his players. Asked if that could backfire by showing too many saves, Boucher said, "We never show the other goalie making saves, so it can't backfire." As for Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who is second in the league with eight shutouts, Boucher said, "That's what's hard when you play Montreal. You might play your best. You might have your most scoring chances you had all year long and you still might lose the game. Your game plan has to be perfect because you're not going to score a lot of goals. ... Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik, the Lightning's first draft choice back in 1992, will play his 1,300th game tonight. He is the 49th NHL player to reach the mark. ... The Canadiens have sold out 284 consecutive games. It's last non sellout was Jan. 8, 2004, against Tampa Bay. ... Remember, tonight's game is on 970-AM instead of 620-AM.