Tampa Bay Lightning calls up D Evan Oberg for 8th time; brass says no other moves in works
On the surface, it seemed an odd move. The Tampa Bay Lightning with eight healthy defensemen (assuming Marc-Andre Bergeron's bad back is ready to go), called up defenseman Evan Oberg from AHL Norfolk.
That this is Oberg's eighth call-up from the minors and he has played a total of 1 minute, 21 seconds in one game is always a fun fact of which to keep track. But this being the trade season, and with the Feb. 27 deadline looming, you have to forgive inquiring minds who thought this might be a prelude to a trade.
But coach Guy Boucher and general manager Steve Yzerman said the move was an insurance policy because Bergeron hasn't played since Jan. 13 and there apparently is another defenseman who is at least nicked up.
"There are no trades or things that you would love to hear," Boucher said. "There is nothing to speculate on. We don't say everything and some of our defensemen -- Bergeron might be able to come back -- but there are other guys in the lineup who have little boo-boos, so it's just a precaution thing. So, if something happens, it will be something that comes out of the blue."
Added Yzerman: "We have to make sure we're dressing seven healthy (defensemen)."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net tonight against the Kings. It is his second start in the team's past nine games. ... It appears right wing Adam Hall will play tonight after missing 12 games with a left biceps injury. He is the team's top penalty-killing forward with an average 3:17 of ice time while Tampa Bay is shorthanded. His recovery has been somewhat remarkable given he was supposed to be out until at least the beginning of March. "They give you guidelines and you put it in your mind that you want to comeback as soon as possible," Hall said. "You've got to credit our entire training staff and the things they do." ... Center Nate Thompson appears as if he will play. He apparently had an MRI test on an undisclosed injury that forced him to leave Monday's practice early. ... No official word, but it seems right wing Brett Connolly and defenseman Matt Gilroy will be scratched. Gilroy has played just 9:36 and 8:02 in his past two games. Boucher said that has been more a function of other players doing well and claiming some ice time, particularly Bruno Gervais and Brendan Mikkelson, who have been an effective pairing. ... Boucher said the team is "grooming" Mikkelson for more of a power-play role. ... Center Steven Stamkos turned 22 today and on the ice received a shaving cream pie in the face courtesy of Steve Downie. Teammate Marty St. Louis, standing next to Stamkos at the time, got hit as well and didn't seem too happy about it. ... Left wing Ryan Malone, out four games with an upper-body injury and shooting for a return Saturday at Buffalo, skated with the team for the first time but with a yellow jersey; not quite a red no-contact jersey but still more of a restriction than if Malone had on a regular jersey. Think of it like a yellow (caution) traffic signal. ... With wing Ryan Shannon looking energetic and speedy since his return from a knee injury, Boucher said he will continue to use him on a line with St. Louis and center Vinny Lecavalier. Shannon, while appreciative, said a player can't live and die based on reward and being in the dog house. "It becomes a roller coaster, and I don't think that's good for your psyche," he said. "I just want to try to build my game up and regardless of who I'm playing with just try to build on the foundation of my game." And that is? "In order to be successful," he said. "it's got to be my speed. Sometimes when you're struggling, you try to do too much, and if I'm trying to do too much I'm trying to be a little too fancy with the puck. If I simplify my game and think about my speed and covering the ice and being responsible with the puck, plays build off that foundation."