St. Louis says he'll play in World Championship
Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis is one of several Lightning players who will participate in the World Championship April 24-May 10 in Switzerland. But St. Louis is an interesting case because he has been so beat up this season, not with debilitating injuries, because he has not missed a game, but by at least three pucks to the face, a stick to the face and a skate-blade cut across his forehead and nose.
Wouldn't you just want to take a break?
"It's been a challenging year and I'm just trying to help myself the best I can," St. Louis said. "It's an experience to play with some of the best players. You always can benefit from that."
St. Louis, 33, also said he wants to sty in the Team Canada loop, especially when it comes to consideration for the 2010 Olympic team. There is a camp in August St. Louis said he will attend.
Some others planning on at least taking part in camps leading up to the world championship are wing Martins Karsums (Latvia), goalie Karri Ramo (Finland) and left wing Ryan Malone (United States), though he said he has yet to be formally invited. Center Steven Stamkos said he has had discussions with Team Canada, though nothing has been officially set. Defenseman Lukas Krajicek (Czech Republic) said he has been asked but has so many bumps and bruises, he may decline.
There likely will be others. Coach Rick Tocchet said the experience is a good one, especially dealing with the pace of the game. "Instead of getting four or five months off, you get four months off," Tocchet said. "At least you're playing some competitive hockey."
Still, there always is the threat of injury. Center Jeff Halpern went through that last year when he blew out his knee playing for the United States. It took him until December to get back in the lineup. But Halpern said injuries can happen anywhere, and the tournament is a good one, especially for younger players.
"To represent your country in something like this, to put on the U.S. jersey and represent your country in that way is a pretty special thing to do," Halpern said.
"You get a chance to represent your country and become a better hockey player," Malone said, "It's definitely a privilege."
Other stuff from this morning: Because of injuries sustained Friday to center Ryan Craig (upper body) and defenseman Josef Melichar (lower body), and with defenseman Richard Petiot (shoulder) still out, the Lightning recalled center Zenon Konopka and defenseman Vladimir Mihalik from AHL Norfolk. Since both played with Tampa Bay earlier in the season, the Lightning's season-long roster count remains at 49 with 21 defensemen. ... By the way, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Lightning's 21 defensmen is an NHL record. The previous mark was 18 by the 1997-98 Oilers. ... Mike McKenna is expected to start in goal. Tocchet said he will play Ramo in the final home games next week against the Penguins and Capitals, and then start McKenna in the season finale in Atlanta. ... McKenna is on a bit of a hot streak. He is 2-1-0 in his past three games with a .928 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against average. ... Karsums, who scored his first NHL goal Friday against the Devils, is steadily gaining favor with the coaching staff. "It's not like huge, 'Oh, my God,' " Tocchet said of Karsums progression, "But you can see he's getting a little more comfortable. I like that he finishes his checks. He's starting to do the little things that we need." Karsums did exactly what Tocchet has been preaching to get his goal. He protected the puck as he carried it into the New Jersey zone, he dropped it off to a trailer and then went to the net, where he got the rebound goal into an open net. "That's the kind of stuff we are craving for," Tocchet said. "That's the exact play I'm looking for on a consistent basis from our team." ... Of the 20 players on the Lightning's roster for tonight's game, only nine have not played in the minors this season: Krajicek, Halpern, Malone, St. Louis, Stamkos, Adam Hall, David Koci, Vinny Prospal and Evgeny Artyukhin.