Ryan Malone should play for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Avs; Steven Stamkos not sure

11

December

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos said he was hit on the right wrist by a puck during Wednesday night's game with the Oilers. The blow caused a bloody cut (see picture with previous post) and was severe enough that he had to have X-rays, which were negative.

Stamkos skated Friday morning but still seemed unsure whether he will play against the Avalanche. Left wing Ryan Malone, who also was hurt against the Oilers, skated and said he likely will play, though he declined to talk specifically about his lower body injury. But the more compelling story right now is Stamkos, who leads the team with 17 goals.

"We'll just have to wait till tonight and see how it feels, give it a couple more hours of treatment and see if the swelling subsides," Stamkos said. "If I feel okay, I'll play tonight. Obviously, it's a big part of your game but if I feel okay, I want to play. We'll see how it feels tonight. It's a game-time decision."

As for the picture of his bloody hand, Stamkos chuckled.

"Obviously, there was some blood," he said. "It's not so much the cut itself that is hurting, it's the swelling and tenderness of the bone. Like I said, it's better than what I expected it to be today. Get some treatment and see how it feels."

"It's more of a pain thing," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He'll take warm-up and if he feels he can play and put up with the pain, he plays. I think it's as simple as that. A guy tells you, 'I can play,' you play him. That's what you're looking for. If he can't, he can't, you go with somebody else."

Tocchet would not say who that somebody else would be. The team called up Blair Jones, but Tocchet said losing Stamkos would affect who plays with whom on other lines, so he could not say what the lineup would be.

Tocchet said if Stamkos tells him he is ready, he wants to be sure he is ready to play the entire game.

"Absolutely," Tocchet said. "When you say, 'Are you ready to go?' it's, 'Are you ready to play the game?' If he plays, it's not just spot duty and see how he feels. He's going to be in the game."   

Malone, polite as always, declined to say much.

Here was the exchange:

Does the injury feel good enough to play tonight?

"Yeah."

Any pain or restrictions?

"No."

You didn't even get hurt the other night, did you?

"No -- diarrhea."

Can you talk about how the injury happened?

"Nope."

Other stuff from the morning skate: Antero Niittymaki gets the start in net. He has not played since a Dec. 4 3-2 loss to  New Jersey. ... Defenseman David Hale is a healthy scratch, and it was a huge disappointment for the native of nearby Colorado Springs. "Definitely," he said. "Especially since I've been somewhat of a mainstay in the lineup, I'm disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed in the whole situation. Going home, you always want to play in front of your home areas, your home people, your home crowd. I seem to play better in front of them, so I was looking forward to it." That said, Hale admitted he has not played his best lately. He is minus-1 in his past four games and played only 8:43 against the Oilers. He said his overall game has slipped. "I do understand the move," he said. "There's no pointing fingers other than at myself. So I have to dig myself out of this whole and come back stronger." ... Isn't it time for Alex Tanguay to get going. The left wing has just four goals and has not scored in 12 games. "We're trying to stay on him,"Tocchet said. The coach said it seems as if Tanguay isn't confident right now and pointed to a two-on-one he had with Jeff Halpern against the Oilers on Wednesday, when he passed up the shot and tried to pass. Halpern whiffed on a bouncing puck. " Tanguay has just 28 shots in 30 games. "When you're not scoring goals I guess your confident level, you don't shoot as much I guess," Tocchet said. "But it should be the opposite. You should shoot and shoot until that one goal goes in." ... Defenseman Matt Walker is back in after being scratched against the Oilers. ... There was a time when the Avalanche was one of the toughest tickets in hockey. The club sold out 487 straight games in a streak that ended on Oct. 16, 2006. But entering tonight's game, Colorado is averaging announced crowds of 14,144, 26th in the 30-team league. ... Lightning wing James Wright sent what seemed  an easy shot off the glass at the Pepsi Center, only to watch the glass shatter. Some of the training staff had a little fun with the rookie, making it seem as if the facility manager was looking for him in order to pay for the damage.

[Last modified: Sunday, January 10, 2010 12:15am]

    

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