Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan Shannon, coming off a big game, gets his chance on a big line

22

November

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher has rewarded wing Ryan Shannon's big game Saturday against the Devils with a spot on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis. Who knows how long that will last. As even Shannon acknowledged, Boucher is very quick to change his lines. Still, it is a nice step for a player who has admitted having trouble grasping Tampa Bay's system.

"Just being able to use my instincts within the system," is how Shannon framed his progression. "Being hesitant and always thinking about playing the system takes you out of the instincts you're supposed to have. So, once I become more familiar with the system I can just play."

We really saw that for perhaps the first time against New Jersey as Shannon used his speed to get to the net with the puck and score a third-period goal with a zippy shot. He also used his smarts to make a great pass to St. Louis on another goal. The outburst gave Shannon, signed over the summer as a free agent from the Senators, a goal and five points in 13 games. It also broke a seven-game points drought that had another five healthy scratches sprinkled in.

"It's been coming for a while," Shannon said of his game. "(Saturday) it was just nice to get rewarded."

That said, Shannon knows he has to keep proving himself, and there is no guarantees he stays on Lecavalier's line.

"One thing I've learned about he way things go is coach picks the guys as the game goes on. So, every shift is a competition to play well."

"He's got the speed. He's got the smarts and he's understanding right now what we want to do," Boucher said. "Right now, he's doing a very good job."

Other stuff from the morning skate: Boucher said all his dinged-up players -- defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron (lower body) and Matt Gilroy (undisclosed) and forward Tom Pyatt (upper body) are expected to play against Toronto. Defenseman Bruno Gervais and forward Blair Jones are scratched. ... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. ... A lot of Sidney Crosby talk after the Penguins superstars two-goal, four-point return Monday against the Islanders. Boucher said, "He looked like the junior I coached in Rimouski, just having a ball out there. It's incredible for the hockey world." Center Steven Stamkos said he was watching the game. "It's pretty great," he said of how Crosby played. "I don't know if I was surprised or he was surprised. Good for hi and good for his team, obviously. I don't know if it's good for the teams in the East." ... For now, Boucher said he is willing to keep Gilroy paired with Eric Brewer as the top defensive pairing. Gilroy stepped in for Victor Hedman in that pairing when Hedman was hurt. But in three games since Hedman's return, he has been paired with Brett Clark. "The fact that Gilroy is able to do it and do it well, it's given us more depth," Boucher said. "The fact that Gilroy can log those minutes and follow the fast pace has saved us the last three weeks. Hopefully, he can keep doing that job."

[Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2011 12:28am]

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