Mike Smith back in goal, Kurtis Foster back on defense for Tampa Bay Lightning
Just a couple of quick hits before getting on a plane to Ottawa.
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet on Wednesday said Mike Smith will be back in goal Thursday against the Senators. Smith sat out the past two games in favor of Antero Niittymaki. Neither Smith nor Tocchet said Smith's absence had anything to do with Smith being sore after he was run over by Jamie Langenbrunner and teammate Ryan Malone in Thursday's game against the Devils. Tocchet has said it was just Niittymaki's turn to play.
And Niittymaki played well in winning both games. But Tocchet reiterated that Smith is still the team's No. 1 goalie and will play a lot.
Whatever the scenario, it appears the Lightning has two very capable goaltenders, and that is a good problem to have.
As for Foster, the defenseman has said for a few days that he is over the lower-body injury he sustained in the season's first game. But either David Hale or Lukas Krajicek has played that defensive position since. A cynic would say the Lightning was taking the opportunity provided by Foster's injury to showcase Hale and Krajicek for possible trades. But Tocchet seems to generally like the jobs Hale and Krajicek are doing, especially Hale.
With Foster in, Tocchet has a decision to make on the No. 1 power play, where Foster's big shot is a potential weapon. Victor Hedman has manned the spot admirably. Tocchet said Foster will see his power play time, though it will be interesting to see what he does with Hedman, who is forcing Tocchet to use him in all situations.