It's all about battles
Losing them and failing to engage in them.
That is why coach John Tortorella said he benched wings Jan Hlavac and Michel Ouellet in the second period of Thursday's game with the Predators. It was an explanation readily accepted by Ouellet.
"It stinks,'' he said of sitting out, "but I understand why. I have to concentrate and play the game I'm supposed to play.''
Ouellet appeared as if he was ready when he returned after missing 18 games with a separated left shoulder and played more than 17 minutes twice and more than 16 minutes before falling to 8:42 and 6:23 his past two games.
Hlavac too looked strong playing with Ouellet and center Vinny Prospal. But Hlavac, too, saw his playing time fall the past two games to 9:14 and 7:37. Prospal was not benched Thursday but played only 11:35, though Tortorella said it was more because the other three lines were playing well and Prospal, now without linemates, kind of got lost until his overtime winning goal.
"They played better than us,'' Hlavac said of the other lines. "It's very easy.''
How to redeem himself tonight against the Thrashers?
"Try to do something on the ice,'' he said. "Scoring a goal would be a big thing.''
Indeed, Hlavac hasn't scored in 10 games. Ouellet hasn't scored in five games since his return.
Other stuff from this morning:
Prospect Kevin Quick, dismissed Feb. 1 from the University of Michigan team for an undisclosed violation of team rules, has signed a 25-game tryout contract with AHL Norfolk. Quick, a defenseman, the 78th overall pick of the 2006 draft, could play sometime next week.
Gorge Bazos, agent for defenseman Dan Boyle, said negotiations to possibly extend his client's contract were pushed back but are expected to get going this week.
Johan Holmqvist, with five straight road wins, gets another shot in net after stopping 18 of 19 shots against the Predators.
Tampa Bay will try to tie a franchise mark with a seventh straight road win.
Andre Roy will sit for a third straight game. Tortorella said it is still for disciplinary reasons but part of it could be the coach's aversion to switch from a winning lineup. Tampa Bay is 2-for-2 without Roy, who argued with Torts on the bench during a Feb. 2 game with the Panthers. The most interesting part of all this is how Roy has accepted full responsibility for what happened.
"It's my fault,'' Roy said. "It's me that put myself in this position. I got a little frustrated on the bench. I just have to control myself. I can't do anything besides work hard in practice, and when I do (play), keep my emotions in check.''
Andre joked he can't wait for Lightning fans during Tuesday's game with the Canadiens at the St. Pete Times Forum to chant, "We want Roy.''