Will Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier play tonight? It's more likely than it was yesterday
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier on Thursday, for the first time since he was injured Saturday, wore a splint between his forefinger and middle finger on his right hand, and said he felt so much better he might actually play in Thursday night's game against the Islanders.
"It's not 100 percent," Lecavalier said after the skate. "But it felt 10 times better today because of the taping job we did."
"If he plays tonight it will be because it's a total green light from the medical staff. It's not because we're pushing him," coach Guy Boucher said.
Lecavalier's index-finger knuckle on his right hand was hurt in the 6-0 loss to the Panthers by a slap shot from Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe, and he missed Monday's 5-4 victory over the Stars. He cut short Tuesday's practice because of pain. But the splint that was taped between the forefinger and middle finger seems to have helped the functionality of the knuckle.
"It's still a bit weak," he said. "But the splint we made was the biggest difference. Yesterday I couldn't even lift the puck."
The question for Lecavalier and Boucher: is it worth it to push Lecavalier this early in the season, especially with games tonight, Friday against the Thrashers and Sunday against the Predators? The Lightning already has seen a player, center Dominic Moore, push himself too early in training camp and re-injure a groin strain that kept him out an additional two weeks or so.
"That's the concern," Lecavalier said. "I felt pretty good out there but you don't want to aggravate anything. I haven't really tested it yet. I've practiced, but that's not game situations."
The team will make the call perhaps after the pregame skate.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Dan Ellis gets the start in net. ... Much fuss was made about two players -- Lightning left wing Sean Bergenheim and Islanders center Zenon Konopka -- facing their former teams for the first time. Bergenheim said it was no big deal. "For me, I haven't given much thought about it," he said. "I live in the moment. I enjoy it here so much right now what has been in the past is in the past." But Konopka said the game is a big deal. "It means quite a bit," he said. "You're here last year, especially the relationships you make off the ice and in the community. So, when you come back it's great to see those faces and friends. Tonight will be all business, but until then it will be a lot of fun here." ... Defenseman Mattias Ohlund (knee), who has missed all the games so far this season, skated with the team for the first time on Thursday and was active looked good during one-on-one drills. Boucher said not to expect Ohlund until after the Nashville game on Sunday. Perhaps he will play Wednesday against the Penguins. "I'm past frustration," Ohlund said. "Any time you're injured -- and, obviously, I've had my share over the years -- especially when you come from a summer of feeling pretty good and working out and preparing, and then you miss a month. I'm frustrated but I can't control that. The only thing I can control is what I can do treatment-wise and get back as fast as I can."