Filppula back on the ice, could return next week
Veteran center Valtteri Filppula was back on the ice Saturday morning, albeit wearing a red non-contact jersey.
Filppula, who has missed the last two games with an upper body injury, will not play tonight against the Coyotes and probably won't Tuesday against Detroit. But Filppula could be back by next weekend.
"It's encouraging to see him out there," coach Jon Cooper said. "Baby steps, but we thought it might be weeks away and now maybe it's not going to be that."
Filppula got hurt in the first period of Sunday's 4-0 win over Columbus, saying it was on an ordinary play that "happens every game." He also skated on Friday's offday. While Filppula admits he still doensn't feel great, it was a "big step" to be back on the ice.
"It's tough, at least for me, it's the first time (for) this kind of stuff," Filppula said. "I don't really know how long it's going to be, but definitely it's nice for my head to be able to get out there and spend some time with the guys on the ice. So it's nice, hopefully I'm not too far away."
More from today's skate: G Ben Bishop will start tonight. C Cedric Paquette and RW Ryan Callahan were not at today's morning skate, and will be game-time decisions tonight, Cooper said. Cooper indicated there's another "bug" going around, and Paquette is sick. RW Jonathan Marchessault took line rushes with LW Ondrej Palat and C Tyler Johnson. Cooper said part of the reason he cancelled practice Friday was to give his team a mental break after a meeting. "It was overwhelmingly we needed a little rest here," Cooper said. "So in some of these situations, you got to listen to your players." Sounds like mental focus/fatigue has been an issue with the Lightning recently, especially the third period of Thursday's loss in Dallas. "I think we got too comfortable and that comfort zone is now gone," Cooper said. "Our ugency has to start tonight." Said Brian Boyle: "We're not where we want to be. It's not a good feeling right now. How we played recently, it's not for a lack of ability or talent. It's the other things, shows how important those things are, the focus, intensity, commitment to everything we do to win hockey games. We have to have the fear and understand we're not guaranteed anything." Boyle, and his 6-foot-7 frame, has given a boost to the power play, which snapped an 0-for-19 skid Thursday. While Boyle hasn't spent much time on the power play in his two seasons with the Lightning, he has experience, scoring 16 power play goals in his first year with AHL Manchester. "I love it," Boyle said. "I want to help, as long as we're shooting pucks, it gives me an opportunity to have an impact. It takes five guys, it's a priveldge to be on it and if I'm on it I'm going to do everything I can to stay on it and help it succeed."