Halpern likely to start in Norfolk
Center Jeff Halpern said last week he is shooting for either the Dec. 18 game against the Avalanche or the Dec. 20 game against the Thrashers as the date of his return from reconstructive knee surgery. Halpern on Monday added the Dec. 23 game against the Penguins as another option.
Either way, it seems Halpern will play a game or two for AHL Norfolk before he gets the call for Tampa Bay. Makes sense. As Halpern said, he wants to be able to play and react to the game without thinking about how his knee will respond. The best place to gain that confidence is in Norfolk.
"I don't mind going down," Halpern said. "You want to play the game and react and not think, 'What's going on?" The more you play, the more confidence you get."
Other injury issues: Left wing Ryan Malone (upper body) is still day to day, but coach Rick Tocchet said he could play Wednesday at Buffalo.The injury couldn't have had worse timing as Malone had four goals and nine points in seven games before sitting out Saturday against the Sabres. Tocchet also said the injury has gotten in the way of devloping a "net presence" for the team; that is, getting players to go to the net. "You look at video for us and anytime there's a shot, I would say at least 50 percent of all our net presence he's in it. The rest of the 20 guys, 50 percentis dividied between them," Tocchet said. ... Left wing Matt Pettinger (knee) is skating well and could be back soon. ... Left wing David Koci, who broke his right hand in a fight Nov. 26 with New York's Colton Orr, skated this morning with a hole cut in the palm of his glove to accommodate the cast.