Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie "even more excited" to beat the Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie has faced his former team before; when the Maple Leafs visited the Tampa Bay Times Forum on March 15. But for Aulie, facing Toronto for the first time at the Air Canada Centre, well, "It will be pretty neat to be on the other side. In the ACC, with the whole atmosphere, I'm looking forward to it. And I'm even more excited to beat them."
Aulie, 22, was acquired from the Leafs at the trade deadline for prospect Carter Ashton. In 17 games for Tampa Bay Aulie has an assist, 13 penalty minutes, three shots on goal and is minus-5 while averaging 10:42 of ice time. In 17 games for the Maple Leafs, Aulie had two points, 16 penalty minutes, 14 shots and was minus-2 while averaging 16:07.
The numbers are just for information. It would be unfair to make any comparisons as Aulie has had the extra burden with the Lightning of learning a new system and the way Tampa Bay wants him to play with an emphasis on positioning and stick work before employing the physical option.
"I think it's been going well," Aulie said. "It was a process getting used to the system at the start, and I've kind of got used to that now. After every practice we're working on stuff with the puck and working on little things like keeping my eyes up and moving my feet and stick-handling at the same time. As a tall guy I've never been too talented with the puck and it's important for me to keep working on that stuff. At the same time I feel like I've gotten used to the system and been able to use my body. I want to keep being physical."
Coach Guy Boucher agreed.
"He's been working extremely hard and done some good things physically," Boucher said.
As far as the other stuff -- the stick-handling, skating, etc. -- "that's experience and time spent," Boucher said.
Whatever experience Aulie has acquired will be a good head start for next season's training camp.
"I just want to finish out strong and, hopefully, come back next year and make the team," he said.
Other stuff from this morning: How has Ashton been doing with the Maple Leafs? He has zero points in 14 games and is minus-10 with 13 penalty minutes while averaging 10:22 of ice time. In his last game, Monday against the Sabres, Ashton played just 2:57. ... As expected, Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net for the Lightning and is scheduled to start the season finale Saturday in Winnipeg. ... Right wing Brandon Segal was reassigned to AHL Norfolk, where he is eligible to play in the playoffs. Segal's demotion was prompted by the unexpected healing of right wing Adam Hall, who has missed nine games with an upper body injury that was supposed to keep him out for the rest of the season, but is in the lineup tonight. ... There wasn't a lot of soul searching when it came to Wednesday's depressing 5-2 loss to the Canadiens. Boucher said he sees it as a combination of things, mostly that there is little motivation for a team that is out of the playoffs and facing other teams that are out of the playoffs. Add that Boucher said he believes the players were looking too hard to get Steven Stamkos the puck in his quest for 60 goals, shots overall were limited. ... Boucher made a good point in trying to convince his players to shoot more while understanding wanting to feed their teammate. He called shots that perhaps cause rebounds Stamkos might pick off "an indirect pass. Feed him with a shot on goal. It's even better." ... Even though right wing Teddy Purcell is having a career season with 21 goals and 62 points, he has faded recently with one goal and seven points in his past 13 games. "He stopped shooting," Boucher said. "He tries to feed everyone. He's got to trust his shot."