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Rookie defenseman Victor Hedman returns to lineup for tonight's game against Atlanta



Rookie defenseman Victor Hedman, a healthy scratch in the Lightning's win against Toronto on Thursday, will be back in the lineup tonight against Atlanta, coach Rick Tocchet said.

"Mentally, it was good for me to get a look from up top,'' he said of watching from the press box. "It looks so much easier up there. It was good -- we had a day off yesterday (Friday) too -- to clear my mind and think about everything except hockey.''

Tocchet said the one-game break should do Hedman well.

"I think he’s really going to respond,'' he said after the Saturday morning skate. "He was really chipper today. You could tell that. Maybe it’s a little bit of a weight off his shoulders just taking that game off.''

The key, he said for Hedman, is to improve his decision-making of when to rush forward and when to stay back and avoid getting caught in no man's land.

"Unfortunately, the mistakes he was making were costing us at crucial times,'' Tocchet said, adding that sometimes a mistake can be covered up or not affect the outcome of a game if a team has a comfortable lead. "But his were crucial and I think it was wearing on him.''

Hedman said he feels "refocused'' and ready to "play my game and bring what I bring to the team.'' Tocchet said it will be a game-time decision who will sit with Hedman returning.

Here's a couple other tidbits from this morning's skate: G Mike Smith continued to practice but still isn't ready to play. LW Stephane Veilleux is out with a lower-back injury. Also, D Kurtis Foster was wearing a blue jersey (of a forward) and figures to a player used either up front or in defense.

-- Brian Landman

[Last modified: Monday, February 22, 2010 12:15am]


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