Lightning coach Guy Boucher says Steven Stamkos is hurt, but Stamkos downplays
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos has zero goals in his past six games, tying his longest drought of the season. So, as was to be expected, coach Guy Boucher was asked about it. After saying he has no problems with Stamkos' game and that the eight shots Stamkos launched in Wednesday's game with the Capitals showed he is getting his chances.
But then Boucher indicated Stamkos has been playing hurt.
"We never said it but he was injured," Boucher said.
Well, that sparked all kinds of other questions.
What is the injury?
"Some parts of the body injury," Boucher said. "It's a lot better but it was really annoying for a while."
Did the injury coincide with his scoring drought?
Stamkos, second in the league with 31 goals, describe whatever his injury is or was as "nothing major, nothing that's going to keep me from playing a game. Honestly, it's the bumps and bruises I go through every year."
He also said he has been fighting "a little bit of the flu, lately."
As for his drought, he said, "You want to find that consistency. You don't want to have those spurts, but the team is finding ways to win. ... Sometimes it gets a little frustrating because of what you expect of yourself, but at the end of the day we're all happy at the fact that we're winning. To me, that's most important."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, goaltender Dwayne Roloson will start in net. Boucher did not commit to Saturday's game at Carolina, but assume that if Roloson plays well, he will start again. ... Boucher said right wing Steve Downie will be a game-time decision because of discomfort from the high ankle sprain that kept him out of 13 games. Downie has played the past five. "It's hard for him right now," Boucher said. "After the last game (Wednesday against the Capitals) he was really hurting. I almost didn't play him in the last game." Downie did not practice Thursday or skate Friday morning. ... Boucher said do not expect to see goalie Mike Smith in a game until after the All-Star break. Smith is practicing but has been out of the lineup since Dec. 20 with a sprained left knee. ... Boucher on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who has a 3.05 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. Brodeur made 33 saves Sunday in a 6-3 win over the Lightning: "We're not fooled, especially after the last game. He stopped two one-timers from the slot when I practically had my arms up behind the bench. So, I'll keep them in my pockets today. He's one of those guys who you never know when he's going to shut you out. He might see 45 shots. He might stop them all. He's an elite goaltender who has seen a lot and can bounce back at any moment." ... Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron has played three games. He has zero points and seven shots on goal. Norfolk general manager Julien BriseBois said Bergeron, a free-agent signing who is getting into game shape and testing his surgically repaired right knee, played 18 minutes his first game and 24 in his second and third. "And playing in all situations," BriseBois said. "That's really what we want him to do. Conditioning-wise he's a fit athlete. It's just a question of getting in game shape ... and for that he needs volume and that's what we're trying to do." BriseBois said there is no timetable for when we will see Bergeron, a power-play specialist, with the Lightning, and added, "We knew going in it was a matter of weeks, not days."