Moore, Smaby good to go for Tuesday; Downie a "major question mark"
Joe Smith here, filling in for my colleague Damian after the long west coast trip..
The Lightning should finally catch a break in the injury department, as C Dominic Moore (groin) and D Matt Smaby (right foot sprain) are expected to be back on the ice Tuesday against the Leafs at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Moore, who was one of the Lightning's best players in the first part of the season, should give a banged up Tampa Bay team a much-needed boost. Coach Guy Boucher said after Monday's practice that Moore brings more than just the numbers you see on the stat sheet, and they certainly missed him on their West Coast trip, in which they went 1-2-1.
"He's one of those guys that is so upbeat and so smart, he picked up real quick what I wanted to do out there, and the rest of the staff, Steve Yzerman," Boucher said. "Those guys you need them around your team, because they transpire the culture that you're trying to build and him not being there, you're okay for a game, you're okay for two, and there are some other guys that are injured too, but after a while, it hurts you. And I think having Moore on that trip there is at least one of those last two games, or the third game against Anaheim. I'm sure we would h ave at least got one point out of that with a guy like that in the lineup...
"Because it relieves the other guys too. It's not just his play, because he plays, and other guys are a little more rested. Because I had to ask a lot of our top guys, they had to play the penalty kill, power play. The last game, we were just drained."
Steve Downie, who has been bothered by a back injury, didn't practice due to "body maintenance," with Boucher saying he's a "major question mark" for Tuesday's game. Of course, it's difficult to keep Downie out of a game.
"He was (a question mark) for last game, but we were kind of short-handed and he wanted to make sure he was out there to help the team."
*Some other things from the morning skate...Dan Ellis will start in goal for the Lightning. Boucher said Simon Gagne, who has missed seven games with a neck injury, is feeling better, but hasn't been on the ice yet (just doing stationary bike workouts). While the exact nature of the injury is still a little uncertain, Boucher said it's not a concussion.
"It's a weird thing in his neck, and created some in-balance," Boucher said. "He feels a little inbalanced. Obviously tested for all the concussion stuff and there was nothing that showed that there were some problems there. It was the same guys that test NFL players, so that's very reliable. Right now, it's more of a neck issue, might be some liquid in there they want to drain. Right now it's the well being of the human being which is more important."
-- JOE SMITH