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Stephane Veilleux back on Vinny Lecavalier's line, and Kurtis Foster practices



A few tidbits from Tampa Bay Lightning practice today:

Stephane Veilleux played right wing on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and left wing Alex Tanguay. Steve Downie, who played the first two games at right wing on that line took Veilleux's place on the fourth line with center Zenon Konopka and left wing Todd Fedoruk.

Seems like a harsh demotion, but Downie wasn't going to Steven Stamkos' line, and Jeff Halpern's third line also is set, so the fourth line was the logical destination.

Downie has zero points and three shots in two games and is averaging 13:28 of ice time.

"I thought Steph had a good third period (Tuesday against the Hurricanes)," coach Rick Tocchet said. "Like I said before, if you're hustling, you're going to get a chance. I thought Downs was okay against Atlanta and got a little better in Carolina, but I think Steph had some urgency in the third period.

Now, to recap, the Lightning began training camp with Downie on the right wing of Lecavalier's line, tries Carter Ashton there, Veilleux and went back to Downie. Now, Veilleux is back. Who would have thought that position would be so tough to fill? But two games into the season and the line as a  whole has just two assists, one each for Lecavalier and Tanguay.

Tocchet said he did not anticipate any other changes in the lineup for Thursday's home opener against the Devils, meaning Mike Smith will start in goal. Speaking of Smith, he admitted he could have handled the puck better against the Hurricanes, the subject of the story for Thursday's paper. 

As for defenseman Kurtis Foster, he practiced for the first time since being hurt Saturday against Atlanta and said he held up well. He said, and Tocchet confirmed, he likely will not play Thursday in the home opener against the Devils, but Saturday is a possibility, though Tocchet would not commit to anything.

Foster said getting through a practice was a big step, but was scheduled to see a doctor later in the day. We will see about the report in the morning.

As for David Hale, who played in Foster's spot Tocchet said, "I thought he did a nice job as the game went on. I thought he had a nice third period. It's understandable, he hasn't played that much in the first period, but I think after that he did a good job. He's a gritty guy."

The silver lining after two road defeats (including one shootout) to open the season is that Tocchet came away from watching the video of the Carolina game feeling even better about the team's effort.

"I feel better today than I did after the game," Tocchet said after Wednesday's practice. "I think the guys worked hard. ... We didn't give them a lot. Our defensive zone coverages were really good, the neutral zone did a nice job. The only thing is we didn't bury our chances, and our D exchanges with our forwards were probably a little below average. But other than that, all facets of the game were good."

Promo: Sun Sports' Inside the Lightning (10:30 p.m. Thursday) will feature Tocchet.


[Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 12:15am]


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