Garon back in net; Purcell heating up
The Lightning, coming off a big win over the East-leading Rangers, didn't arrive to their Raleigh hotel until close to 3 a.m. Saturday, a result of mechanical issues with the plane.
But to coach Guy Boucher, it's just another example of adversity, having gone through injuries - seen four players traded away - while trying to climb back into the playoff hunt.
"Just don't stop believing," wing Teddy Purcell said.
Purcell had a three point night in Friday's win over the Rangers, extending his points-streak to eight games. He's taking advantage of the opportunity playing with Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, developing the kind of consistency he's always desired. Boucher pointed out Purcell has played well since Christmas, and has had maybe on bad game in the last 10, which is "very impressive." Purcell was rewarded by logging a season-high 23 minutes, 20 seconds Friday.
"People say, 'Teddy Purcell has emerged,' well he hasn't emerged yesterday, it's been a long time," Boucher said. "It's not something that has come over night, it's something he's worked at, something he's deserved, something he's got to keep working at.
"There's two things we always focus on with Teddy, it is skate and battle. When he's doing both, he's terrific. When he's missing one, he's average. When he's missing both, he's below average. And he knows that."
Purcell said he's been used to a secondary role, but with C Vinny Lecavalier out, he's getting more chances, and taking advantage.
"The last couple years, I've really tried to work on consistency," Purcell said. "And I've had some ups and downs with that, but really since Christmas time I've really taken a big step in my game in that and worked and competed and tried to be consistent on a daily basis so coach can keep putting me in those spots."
More stuff from the morning: The team didn't skate this morning, just had meetings...There should be some news later on the status of D Victor Hedman... Boucher said G Mathieu Garon will return in net, with the only lineup changes being Tim Wallace replacing Brandon Segal....D Keith Aulie, recently acquired from the Maple Leafs, said he was surprised to see coach Ron Wilson fired yesterday, even as Toronto is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. "I didn't really think it'd happen during the year," Aulie said. "It's a little bit shocking, but maybe this is what they need, to get a spark and maybe they can be back on track." Aulie was grateful Wilson gave him his "first shot," and had nothing bad to say. But he acknowledged the pressure of playing in Toronto, with all the expectations and media, can be difficult when the team isn't playing well. "It just wears on you after a while," Aulie said. "If you're not in a good, positive mood everyday, it makes it tough to play your best."...While St. Louis logged over 28 minutes last night, Boucher acknowledged he may play a lot again tonight, with the benefit of having two days off after. "If I have to give two days off to Marty after, I will give him two days off, I don't care," Boucher said. "Right now, it's survival tiem. He's going to play."
-- JOE SMITH