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Lightning makes more moves on defense

20

January

Kevin Quick did nothing wrong, Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. Still, the rookie, who played in four games in his first call-up to the NHL was sent back to AHL Norfolk while Ty Wishart, who played in one game in his first call-up is expected to be brought back up.

A couple factors, Tocchet said. It's part of the rotation we've written about in which the team is looking at various minor leaguers to get an accurate evaluation of what its got. It also "keeps players hungry," Tocchet said. But it also is an acknowledgment that size matters, at least in Wednesday's game against the Sabres.

Quick is generously listed at 6-feet, 175 pounds. Wishart is listed at 6-4, 205.

In the context of what the blue line has had to deal with recently -- a procession of call-ups from Norfolk and injuries to Paul Ranger, Matt Smaby, Jamie Heward and Marek Malik -- let's keep what it has accomplished in context. You have guys such as Lukas Krajicek, Steve Eminger and Andrej Meszaros playing way more minutes than they are used to and, as coach Rick Tocchet said, probably should be playing.

You have younger guys such as Quick showing that they perhaps more prepared than we thought for the NHL. You have a guy like Cory Murphy show up and make a big contribution in his first game after being claimed off re-entry waivers, and you have forwards who have decided to buy into the "play as five" defensive scheme which is so necessary when dealing with inexperience and injuries.

Is it an ideal situation? Not even close. But you know what? The defense certainly is better than it was at the beginning of the season, and even when it gets into those stretches when it can't get the puck out of the defensive zone, at least the defense battles and limits shots.

This doesn't let the team off the hook. It still needs to find defensemen in trade or through free agency. But at least you're not scared anymore every time the opposition carries the puck into the Lightning zone.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]

    

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