Mihalik coming back up
Three defensemen sat out Sunday's practice because they are "banged up," as coach Rick Tocchet said. Steve Eminger, Matt Smaby and Lukas Krajicek got the day off as did goaltender Olie Kolzig, who speculated last week he might be able to play Monday against the Kings but hasn't been on the ice the past two days.
As for the blue line, Tocchet said Krajicek likely will play. A decision won't be made on Smaby and Eminger until Monday, though in the locker room both said they likely would be able to play. So, we'll see. Tocchet did say defenseman Vladimir Mihalik will be re-called from AHL Norfolk. Mihalik played three games with Tampa Bay to begin the year and earned his first NHL point, an assist, Jan 4 against the Thrashers.
About the victory over the Ducks: Lots of discussion about how Friday's 4-3 decision was better for the team than say a win in which it cruised, especially after Thursday's dreary 3-2 loss to the Coyotes. In a sense, the games were similar. Tampa Bay started fast in both games before the opposition began to push back. But instead of caving, as the Lightning did against Phoenix, Tamp Bay pushed back against Anaheim; noteworthy because the Ducks are a bunch of bullies at home. And while things never got out of hand, the game had a bit of an edge to it. The bottom line, though, is the Lightning responded to Anaheim's physical challenge and just the challenge of upping its games. It was a good test and the Lightning, which has won two of three on this five-game road trip and is on an encouraging 5-3-1 streak, passed.
Other stuff from Sunday's practice: Tocchet reiterated that rookie Steven Stamkos will play Monday after sitting out Friday's game with the Ducks, the first benching of Stamkos' career. Stamkos skated with Ryan Craig and Adam Hall. ... Matt Pettinger was elevated to a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Vinny Prospal. Tocchet said Pettinger's fight Friday with Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf was the kind of "out of character" move he says every struggling team needs with which to find a spark. ... With three defensemen out, right wing Mark Recchi and left wing David Koci, who still is nursing a healing right hand, dressed as defensemen. Tocchet said Recchi will be in the lineup Monday, so that means the practice lines are not in stone. ... Tocchet continued to talk up the defensive prowess of left wing Paul Szczechura. ... Tocchet also had lots to say about left wing Ryan Malone, who has eight goals and 19 points in his past 14 games. Tocchet said he believes Malone can be an elite power forward in the league. "His attitude should be, 'I have another level in me and I can get there. What does it take to do?' And I think he has it in him to do it. It's a matter of action." ... Expect to see more of the line of Malone, center Jeff Halpern and Marty St. Louis, who is a stud, by the way. Can't say it any better than that. The guy put the team on his back and carried it against Anaheim with a goal and three points. It was just the kind of example the team needed after the game with Phoenix. ... Vinny Prospal, very quietly, has put together a six-game points streak, with three goals and five assists.