Cooper hopes Brewer will miss just 1 game; Barberio back in tonight vs. Panthers
Just when the Lightning was making progress whittling down its injury list -- it was down to four -- defenseman Eric Brewer sustained an upper-body injury (believe to be an arm injury) in Saturday's 3-2 overtime victory over the Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said he does not believe the injury is serious and he hopes Brewer will miss only tonight's game with the Panthers.
"Not long-term," Cooper said. "Hopefully, this is the only game he misses."
With Brewer out, Mark Barberio gets back in the lineup in a pairing with Sami Salo. Victor Hedman will play with Andrej Sustr. Matt Carle and Radko Gudas remain together.
Barberio returns to the lineup after two games as a healthy scratch and after playing fewer than 10 minutes in three of his past four games.
"I'm just trying to find consistency in my game," Barberio said. "I know there are some games I'm feeling good and plays are working, and other times I'm a bit jittery or nervous with the puck."
"Sometimes you get a different persective when you sit upstairs, how the game is played," Cooper said. "One thing you realize is you have a little more time than you think you do out there on the ice, and that's key for a defenseman. You can look at situations and say, 'Oh, yeah, maybe this would work a little better.' You just hope he's digesting that upstairs when he's watching."
As for getting back in the lineup, Barberio said, "I'm looking forward to it. I'm always itching to play. An early Christmas gift, I guess."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets the start tonight against the Panthers. ... Sounds as if forwards Richard Panik and Pierre-Cedric Labrie will be scratched. ... The Panthers have won seven out of nine and seem to be thriving under interim coach Peter Horachek. Cooper said the biggest difference in the Panthers is how much better they are in their own end. ... A Lightning win tonight will give them the season series against the Panthers and the Governor's Cup championship. Asked if he had ever heard of the Governor's Cup, Lightning C Valtteri Filppula said, "Actually, no." ... Here's bad stat for the Lightning. In the 24 games in which its power play has gone just 8-for-75, Tampa Bay has won a medicore 45.7 percent of power-play faceoffs (8 of 127). "Atrocious," Cooper called it. The coach figured the team loses at least 15 seconds of attack time every time it loses a power-play faceoff. "And that's if you get in (to the offensive zone) clean. What if you don't get in clean? Now, you're looking at 30 (seconds)." By that time, Cooper said, you're power-play unit is probably tired and facing a defensive unit that has probably already changed for fresher legs. "So it's a huge part of the game," Cooper said. What can be done? Several things: centers can create more puck battles, assistant coach George Gwozdecky said centers also must do a better job of communicating where they want to go with the faceoff so all the players are on the same page. ...In honor of Christmas we have this from Hedman, who said about eating reindeer in his native Sweden, "It's unbelievable. Wild stew with reindeer meat, put it on an open fire, it's delicious."