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Malone says he's good to go; Labrie to make NHL debut

7

January

There were a few new faces at the Lightning's morning skate Saturday at the Bell Centre, with recently-acquired defenseman Brendan Mikkelson and recently recalled forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie joining the team.

Rookie wing Brett Connolly was back, too, fresh off a World Junior Hockey Championships experience with Team Canada he said he'll never forget. He will step in on the line with Vinny Lecavalier and Dominic Moore, taking the place of injured wing J.T. Wyman.

Right wing Ryan Malone, who has missed the past two games with a lower body injury, skated again this morning and said he's good to go tonight.

Labrie, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound checking forward, will be making his NHL debut tonight, with his parents and about 10 friends from his hometown of Baie-comeau, QC.

Labrie, recalled from Norfolk Friday, was pleasantly surprised to get the call. "Honestly, when I first found out, my body got nervous and shaked for like 10-15 minutes. I was very happy. I couldn't believe it."

Labrie, who has spent the past five seasons in the AHL, brings some needed size and physicality to the Lightning.

"He's a huge boy that hits extremely hard - he can drop the gloves too," coach Guy Boucher said. "He's a pretty smart player, and (does) the simple things, and driving the net. I think he's going to bring something we have very little of."

Mikkelson could play tonight, but only if Malone doesn't. Boucher feels Mikkelson brings some size and speed to the blue line, and helps in terms of depth.

Mikkelson, who was playing for Calgary's AHL team, thought he was getting recalled by the Flames when he was told by the assistant GM he was traded.

"I was surprised," Mikkelson said. "He said, 'I think this could be a good move for you in the long run.' I'm like, 'Wait a minute.' I've been recalled a lot of times, that doesn't sound like a recall."

Also from the morning skate: G Mathieu Garon will start in net for the Lightning.

-- JOE SMITH

joesmith@tampabay.com

 

[Last modified: Saturday, January 7, 2012 2:59pm]

    

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