What's more interesting?
There is a lot going on with the Lightning beginning with tomorrow's game with the Devils in Newark. The big story around the league is that New Jersey goalie Marty Brodeur is out with a serious elbow injury, but Tampa Bay starts a five-game journey that GM Brian Lawton has said will decide some personnel issues.
So which is more interesting?
Quote-wise, I'll say the Brodeur situation as Lightning coach Barry Melrose addressed a situation that would seem on the surface to be a good one for Tampa Bay. Who wouldn't rather face Kevin Weekes than Brodeur. But as Melrose said, “From a coach’s point of view, it actually causes problems. You have a team that’s mentally preparing to play against the best goaltender in the game, and all of a sudden he’s not there. It’s human nature. They’ll say, ‘Wow, it’s a great break for us and we don’t have to work as hard.’
“That’s how a coach things. You find a black cloud in everything. Kevin Weekes is an experienced NHL goaltender. Marty Brodeur being hurt only helps us if we work as hard as we did before.”
So what are the stats? Brodeur is 27-14-2 with five ties in 50 games against Tampa Bay with a 1.98 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and five shutouts. Weekes is 3-3 with two ties in 10 games against his former team with a 2.35 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts.
As for the Lightning angle, we know Lawton has said how important is this trip. The roster is at the 23-player limit, and when right wing Radim Vrbata (groin) comes off injured reserve, that makes 24, and a roster move will have to be made. Vrbata might be ready soon. He said his groin has not bothered him for two days.
Vrbata and wing Jason Ward are on the bubble here, it would seem. Ward has played in just one of 10 games. Vrbata has zero goals in five games, missing two as a healthy scratch and three as injured.
"I definitely would like to see some decisions made," Ward said. "I definitely don't enjoy watching games."
As for Vrbata, he had 27 goals for the Coyotes last season and signed a three-year, $9-million contract. But he has struggled so far and also is looking for direction.
"Before the injury, I didn't know exactly what my role was," Vrbata said. "That's the reason I signed here, to have the same season I had last year. So, we'll see what this road trip brings."
It may not bring many changes if the team keeps winning as coach Barry Melrose has said he does not like changing a winning lineup.
“We’ve been together two months," Melrose said. "We know who plays hard. We know who we would like to play harder. We know who is dependable; you now who’s a competitor, who’s not a competitor. … What I’m looking at in the five games is, where are we in our emergence as a team?”