What will we see if D Marc-Andre Bergeron makes it to the Tampa Bay Lightning?
A Steven Stamkos-type shot. That is how Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher described the shot of newly signed defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron. Boucher added that Bergeron's shot can be a "game-changer."
"It's just one more tool in the tool box," Boucher said.
The trick will be getting Bergeron to Tampa. The first step is getting him through waivers, on which Bergeron was placed at noon Wednesday. The Lightning wants Bergeron, coming off summer surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee, to play a "substantial" number of games for AHL Norfolk before being called to the NHL. His one-year, two-way contract that is believed will pay $1 million (prorated for games played) if he is in the NHL is fairly attractive if another team wants to grab him. We will know at noon Thursday whether or not he is claimed.
So, let's assume Bergeron gets through waivers and eventually is promoted to the Lightning.
"He's a power-play specialist," Boucher said of the player who had seven goals on the power play and 21 points in 60 games last season with the Canadiens.
In other words, Bergeron fits in well with Boucher's preference to play seven defensemen as Bergeron, not known for his defensive prowess, could be used almost exclusively with the extra man. Not as a quarterback but as a pure shooter, said Boucher, who coached Bergeron last season when the player rehabbed an injury at AHL Hamilton.
"We've often played with seven defensemen, so he fits right in with our structure and how we want to use our payers," Boucher said. "If you play seven defensemen and he's a specialist, well, he's in a perfect place."
Goalie Dwayne Roloson, who played with Bergeron from 2005-07 with the Oilers believes so as well.
"He works hard. he skates like the wind and he's got a cannon," Roloson said. "When he gets it off, he's tough to stop, so it's definitely a bonus."
"We thought year with the Canadiens he made them win very often," Boucher said. "He's a game-changer. ... But the thing right now is for him to get back in shape.".
Other stuff from the morning: Roloson gets the start in net after his brilliant 34-save shutout of the Capitals on Tuesday. ... Boucher said he could tell right wing Steve Downie, who played for the first time after missing 13 games with a high-ankle sprain, was tied after his 11:59 of ice time against the Capitals. But Downie said he felt pretty good. Downie has a huge purple shiner under his left eye, courtesy of his fight with Washington's Matt Hendricks, who would not let Downie escape his grasp and almost forced Downie to fight him. Downie seemed to like the badge of courage as he admired himself in a mirror in the team's Pittsburgh hotel. He also had good things to say about the Capitals fans. he likes that they are loud and he said he likes the banter that he had in the penalty box with the fans. "Good fans," Downie said. " ... Wing Ryan Malone has one goal in his past 11 games. Easy to tell why, Boucher said. "He's not at the net enough. If he's not at the net, he's not getting anything." ... Boucher said he loves the way the line of center Vinny Lecavalier and wings Sean Bergenheim and Simon Gagne is playing. He said the line should have had several goals against Washington but could not hit the net with some shots. Lecavalier, especially, should have scored on his first shot of the game, a sizzling wrist shot that beat Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov but went wide. Boucher said such shots are a team-wide problem because players try to be too fine. Boucher said he had this conversation with his players recently. "I told them 'read this,' " he said of a quote from Hall of Famer Mike Bossy. "Nine seasons with 50 goals. Nine seasons in a row. How did he do it? 'I didn't look where I was shooting. I just shot in the middle of the net quick.' Brett Hull, 'What's your secret? I just shoot quick on net.' You've got to aim right for the middle." ... Interesting take from Boucher on the Penguins being so responsible defensively. "They pull back and they don't take many chances, and their goaltender is doing very well. But the reality is they don't give many chances. So, if people say it's a wide-open game against Pittsburgh they're referring to the old way of doing things. They are very sound defensively." ... Is this a good omen for Tampa Bay considering what happened Tuesday? The team is the first to face both the Capitals and Penguins after the Winter Classic. ... The Lightning has just two regulation losses since Dec. 7, tying the Avalanche and Vancouver for fewest in that span. ... Boucher said he likely will give defenseman Randy Jones (neck/shoulder) another night off.