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If nothing else, the Tampa Bay Lightning is loose; remember Wednesday's game is at 7



First, a reminder. Wednesday's game with the Maple Leafs at the St. Pete Times Forum is at 7 p.m. to accommodate Canadian TV.

So, this is what we saw today after the Tampa Bay Lightning's practice:

There was left wing Todd Fedoruk doing 10 forward rolls down the hallway leading to the locker room and then holding himself up against the wall because he was so dizzy. There was Fedoruk and left wing Ryan Malone plotting to hit defenseman turned forward Kurtis Foster in the face with a double-shot of shaving cream for his 28th birthday. All that after center Zenon Konopka went on the Fisher and Boy morning radio show on 97X and had them crank call teammate Stephane Veilleux.

Listen to that here, and notice how quickly Veilleux tries to convince the crank callers not to report Konopka to the Lightning concerning the made-up incident about which they are talking.

As for Fedoruk rolling his way down the hallway, that speaks for itself. But the Foster pie-in-face episode actually was quite a production as the players enlisted a video team from the Lightning's web site to position Foster in just the right way so he would not see the attack coming from behind. It worked, too, as Foster got hit from both sides of the head with piles of shaving cream. Marty St. Louis was cracking up, and even Foster, after he showered the shaving cream out of his hair, wanted to see the video.

It was the second birthday/shaving cream incident that we know of. Veilleux got one on the ice on Nov. 16 for his 28th birthday. Somehow Alex Tanguay avoided an attack on Nov. 21 for his 30th.

Fedoruk, whose birthday is Feb. 13, let it be known he wants a real cream pie in his face when he turns 30.

"I want to eat it off my face," he said.   

But back to business:

Antero Niittymaki is expected to start in net. ... Defensemen Matt Smaby (finger) and Mattias Ohlund (ankle) skated, though Ohlund left practice early. Smaby said he is ready to play, though coach Rick Tocchet called both questionable. In fact he called Ohlund, who has missed four games, more questionable than Smaby. ... Jeff Halpern has been moved from center to right wing on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Tanguay. That is part of a bigger line shakeup in which Paul Szczechura is centering for Steve Downie and James Wright. "I really felt Szczechura with Wrighter and Downs is a good, young, fast line," Tocchet said. "And I figured Halpy on the wing gives another corner guy for Vinny, a guy who can take draws on that line, a defensive guy. It wasn't what anybody did wrong. It was just adding more to the other lines. For Halpern the change is significant. He said at center "you support everyone on the ice. You're constantly supporting the puck and are always around it. You have to have a presence of what your linemates are doing, so I feel like center has the most impact on the game. Wing you have to be the first guy in on the puck, come in with a hit. You skate as hard as you can and try to get your puck to the centerman. It's a completely different mentality. At center I take it upon myself to support the other four guys on the ice as much as I can whereas on the wing I play my spot and I go when I'm supposed to go." ... Foster, who played some at forward Sunday against the Thrashers is an experiment Tocchet said will continue. ... Tocchet said he is "not 100 percent" on Wednesday's lineup for the game with the Maple Leafs, but said he was inclined not to change anything, meaning Antero Niittymaki will be in net. ... Speaking of Niittymaki, his left-leg, split save on Evander Kane in the third period against the Thrashers might be the save of the season. Too bad Kane was able to bat in the rebound. "It was one of those desperate thing," Niittymaki said of the save. "I don't know how he was able to put it in the net after that rebound." ... By the way, if you haven't seen the holiday message from defenseman Victor Hedman on the Lightning web site, check it out. The kid is pretty funny.

I'm taking a few days off for Thanksgiving, so the blog may go dead for a while. See you next week.          

[Last modified: Thursday, December 24, 2009 12:15am]


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