Tampa Bay Lightning's Mattias Ritola clears waivers
What it came right down to, the Lightning figured, was playing time. Right wing Mattias Ritola wasn't going to get it. Teammate Brett Connolly is better than anticipated, and Tampa Bay already had a glut of 14 forwards. So, expect Ritola to be sent down to AHL Norfolk after clearing waivers Thursday.
Ritola has zero points and is minus-2 in five games. He was a non factor in about eight minutes in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes. Granted, Ritola hadn't played in five previous games but he did not make the Lightning brass stand up and take notice.
Ritola spoke earlier in the week of trying to be calmer on the ice and more consistently make the right decisions. He will get that chance at Norfolk, where he was an impact player last season.
In other news from Thursday: Coach Guy Boucher said he did not know yet if Dwayne Roloson or Mathieu Garon will play Friday against the Blackhawks. ... Boucher also said Tom Pyatt will be back in the lineup after sitting out one game to give Ritola a shot. Boucher said the team clearly missed Pyatt's defensive abilities, especially on the penalty kill. ... A day after Boucher put the team though a grueling 45-minute practice, the coach said the players were "sharp" in Thursday's practice that focused almost exclusively on the power play. "Got everything I wanted," Boucher said.