Injured Tampa Bay Lightning LW Ryan Malone getting closer to returning, perhaps Saturday
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone, who has missed five games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, skated with a regular jersey Thursday morning and might be ready to play Saturday at Buffalo.
"It all feels good," Malone said. "We're just making sure, and we'll see how it feels (Saturday)."
It has been a frustrating season for Malone, who has played in only 41 of 53 games. He has 10 goals and 27 points, but the Lightning misses his physical presence. He also gets time on the power play and penalty kill. And as coach Guy Boucher said, "He's not intimidated whenever we play in another team's barn."
But because Malone plays a physical game he is susceptible to injuries.
"We need this guy in the lineup, especially because he'd been playing really well," Boucher said. "The last 10 games he looked terrific out there. He finally got his legs going and he was clicking with (Steven Stamkos)."
"Yeah, this isn't fun," Malone said of being injured. "This year, last year, annoying I guess is the word; getting injured and you can't perform the way you want to. But that's part of the game."
Nothing specific has come out about Malone's injury. The left wing is one of the best at keeping his bumps and bruises a secret. Asked if his current injury had anything to do with a previous one, Malone gave an answer any politician would love:
"I think you can say yes because all the body ties together."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Mathieu Garon gets the start in net for the Lightning. ... Seems as if Martin Biron will get the start for the Rangers. ... Boucher didn't have a lot of specifics ab out who was in and out in tonight's lineup other than to say he was going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen and right wing Brett Connolly would be in. ... About J.T. Wyman's meager 2:35 of ice time Tuesday against the Kings, Boucher said he felt badly because Wyman simply got lost on the bench. "I feel bad about it. There's no reason. he didn't play bad," Boucher said. "We were trailing and I was trying to score some goals. I double-shifted and triple-shifted some guys, and he didn't deserve to be sitting. He's been really good for us." That said, there did not seem to be any guarantee Wyman would be in the lineup tonight against the Rangers. With Connolly in, one more player has to sit and there was no clear indication who that would be. ... Defenseman Mattias Ohlulnd (knees) is traveling with the team, though he is not skating and hasn't since mid November. Boucher said Ohlund is enough of a leader among the players and has a good enough eye for the game he can be a kind of player/coach. "Having him around is good for him and good for the team," Boucher said.