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With Lindback out and Bishop questionable, 2 goalies might be called up from the minors

Anders Lindback was hurt in the second period against Ottawa when Senators forward Cory Conacher fell on him after Conacher drove to the net and made contact with Lightning defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote.

AP photo

Anders Lindback was hurt in the second period against Ottawa when Senators forward Cory Conacher fell on him after Conacher drove to the net and made contact with Lightning defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote.

The Lightning is in an unusual position as it heads into Saturday's game at Montreal.

With goaltender Anders Lindback (left ankle sprain) out and Ben Bishop (head) questionable, it is possible Tampa Bay will call up two goalies from the minor leagues. It was unclear if both Cedrick Desjardins and Kristers Gudelvskis could both be called up from AHL Syracuse, which plays tonight at Utica and Saturday at home against Norfolk, or how/if former first-round draft choice Riku Helenius fits in. The Naples Daily News reported Helenius already has been assigned to Syracuse from ECHL Florida, though there was no confirmation from the Lightning.

If that is the case, makes sense Desjardins and Gudlevskis would come to Tampa Bay.

"We'll have a goalie in net (Saturday)," coach Jon Cooper said. "I just don't know what league his last game was from. That's the only thing. He might have in the NHL. He might have played in the American League." …

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Ben Bishop injured in game vs. Senators

Ben Bishop entered the game fourth in the league with a 1.99 goals-against average and second with a .933 save percentage.

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Ben Bishop entered the game fourth in the league with a 1.99 goals-against average and second with a .933 save percentage.

Lightning star goaltender Ben Bishop, who has been talked about in terms of a potential league MVP, left Thursday's game with the Senators 1:49 into the first period after he was inadvertently kneed in the back of the head by teammate Nikita Kucherov.

You can watch the play here.

Bishop (26-7-4), who entered the game fourth in the league with a 1.99 goals-against average and second with a .933 save percentage, dove to his left to try to knock a puck away from Ottawa's Mike Zibanejad.

Bishop got to the puck with his stick, but Kucherov, who was trailing the play could not jump over Bishop and caught Bishop with a knee in the back of the head. Play continued with Bishop down and Ottawa defenseman Mike Methot scored for a 1-0 lead.

Bishop stayed down for several minutes and was attended to by head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan before leaving the ice and being replaced by Anders Lindback.

There was no immediate word on Bishop's condition other than he had an upper-body injury and was not expected to return..

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Ondrej Palat's pluses far outweigh his minuses

Ondrej Palat has 11 goals, 29 points in 53 games.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ondrej Palat has 11 goals, 29 points in 53 games.

The plus/minus stat is a tricky one because it does not distinguish specifically between good play and bad. All it measures is if a player is on the ice when a goal is scored either for or against his team.

That said, it is worth noting that left wing Ondrej Palat leads all rookie forwards at plus-22. He is plus-7 in his past four games and has not had a minus game since Dec. 21 at Carolina, one of only nine minus games he has had all season.

"For me, it's one of the most important stats," Palat said before Thursday's game with the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. "You don't want to give up goals."

It hasn't hurt that Palat, who has 11 goals, 29 points in 53 games plays on a pretty successful offensive line with center Tyler Johnson (plus-15) and right wing Marty St. Louis (plus-18).

As Palat said, "We're playing most of the time in the offensive zone. It works out great. If we're playing in the offensive zone and we're scoring goals, that's why we're a plus. We're not going to be a minus."

But coach Jon Cooper said the reasons go a bit deeper. …

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Stamkos doesn't rule out playing in Olympics without first playing for Bolts

Steven Stamkos, out since Nov. 11 with a broken right tibia, skates Tuesday in Toronto.

AP photo

Steven Stamkos, out since Nov. 11 with a broken right tibia, skates Tuesday in Toronto.

It has long been assumed Steven Stamkos would have to play a game or two for the Lightning in order to prove he is ready to play for Canada in next month’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

But the star center, out since Nov. 11 with a broken right tibia, said he doesn’t necessarily have to play for Tampa Bay before playing for Canada, which opens its Olympic tournament Feb. 13 against Norway.

If he does not play for the Lightning, however, his Olympic participation would depend on a “discussion” with Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who also is executive director of Team Canada.

“The objective is to play a game,” Stamkos said Tuesday in Toronto. “That’s something I would really love to do. But if that’s not the case, there’s going to be another discussion about whether I’m stil going to be on that (Olympic) team. We haven’t had that. It’s more like we’ll cross that bridge when we need to.”

If such a discussion does happen, Stamkos said it will be "honest." …

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Lightning still interested in Swiss star Reto Suri (updated)

Swiss star Reto Suri still is on the Lightning's radar.

Assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said he and Tampa Bay development coach Stacy Roest, Suri's teammate in Switzerland from 2010-12, earlier this month scouted the talented wing, who plays for Zug in the Swiss-A league.

The Lightning tried to sign Suri last year, but the deal was rejected by the Swiss federation because it does not have a transfer agreement with the NHL. Suri's contract with Zug runs through 2014-15.

"We're not able to negotiate or talk to him about a contract at this time," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. "His agent is working with the club to see what they can do."

The assumption is Suri is trying to buy out his contract or establish some sort of out option. His agent declined comment. But the web site swisshockeynews.ch reported such a clause has been worked out. …

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Stamkos didn't practice Monday, but says not a setback

Steven Stamkos has been making a speedy recovery from a broken tibia.

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Steven Stamkos has been making a speedy recovery from a broken tibia.

Update 12:25 p.m. Lightning star Steven Stamkos said when he came out on the ice before practice today, his surgically-repaired right leg just didn't feel right, so he decided to "err on the side of caution" and not participate in practice.

Stamkos, who did an off-ice workout instead, insisted he doesn't believe it's a step back, that he's had a lot more good days than bad in his rehab, which is still way ahead of schedule.

"Whenver it doesn't feel good, it's a little frustrating," Stamkos said. "But I've not gone through something like this bfore, so when things dont' feel well, you want answers right away, and you want to know how to fix it. But it's not necessarily that easy. It's been tough, the days it doesn't feel good, especially after the strides that I've taken and how good I felt on the ice the other day. But you have to be smart with this. I thought today was a smart decision and we'll see how it feels tomorrow." …

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Former Lightning coach Guy Boucher takes head coaching job with Switzerland's SC Bern

After terrific early success under Guy Boucher, the Lightning struggled in its next two seasons and missed the playoffs.

DIRK SHADD | Times

After terrific early success under Guy Boucher, the Lightning struggled in its next two seasons and missed the playoffs.

Former Lightning coach Guy Boucher is the new head coach of SC Bern in Switzerland, that team's web site reported early Monday. He has a contract through the 2015-16 season.

Boucher was fired by the Lightning in March 2013 with a 97-78-20 record in two-plus seasons and after leading the team to the 2011 Eastern Conference final in which it lost 1-0 to the Bruins in Game 7.

Touted as an offensive and defensive innovator when he was hired in June 2010, Boucher, 42, had terrific early success. But the team struggled in its next two seasons and missed the playoffs. By the end, Boucher had lost some of the confidence of the players and had what was described as "philosophical differences" with general manager Steve Yzerman.

Those differences were never explained, though it was believed some of it concerned the use of Steven Stamkos in late-game situations.

Boucher was fired after a 5-3 loss to the Senators, at the time the Lightning's 10th loss in 14 games. He was replaced by Jon Cooper, who, at the time, was the coach of Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Video: Lightning C Tyler Johnson on his first career hat trick

Lightning rookie center Tyler Johnson talks about his first career hat trick, which came in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Avalanche at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Johnson is now tied with Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon for the rookie-points lead with 34, and is second to MacKinnon in goals (16).

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Stamkos advances to light contact in practice

Lightning star Steven Stamkos shed his red jersey in favor of a yellow one for Saturday's morning skate, signaling he's been cleared for light contact.

Stamkos, who suffered a broken right tibia Nov. 11, had hoped he'd be able to take the next step in his rehab after a Thursday x-ray was encouraging. And Stamkos appeared to enjoy his new status, playfully shoving teammate Marty St. Louis near the boards Saturday morning, even knocking the captain to the ice.

Stamkos' goal is to return for one of the Lightning's home games (Feb. 6, Feb. 8) before the Olympic break. But coach Jon Cooper tempered the excitement over the color of the All-Star's jersey, saying Stamkos is "a ways away" from being cleared to play.

"Everyday he's getting better," Cooper said. "There's still lots of things that have to go on still. He hasn't been cleared, ane he's still a ways away from being cleared. He hasn't done any battling. So it's just the process is slowly going on. But, in saying that, when you take the minimum-maximum (recovery) what the injury was, he's closer to coming in at the minimum time frame than obviously the maximum timeframe. So that's good for all of us." …

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Richard Panik reassigned to AHL Syracuse

The Lightning have reassigned right wing Richard Panik to AHL Syracuse.

It's not a surprising move, considering Panik's playing time has been limited the past month as he's been in and out of the lineup. Plus Tampa Bay will need to make a move when C Steven Stamkos is ready to return from a broken right tibia.

Panik has two goals and nine assists and is a minus-8 in 39 games for the Lightning this season.

 

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How fans can avoid Gasparilla traffic, secure parking for Saturday's game

With Gasparilla crowds expecting to flood downtown Tampa Saturday, the Lightning are offering fans a chance to pre-purchase parking today to guarantee a spot.

Fans can go to the Lightning website, www.tampabaytimesforum.com/parking, with those who buy able to access the lots beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday. However, fans will not be able to leave and re-enter lot without paying again. Indviduals looking to pre-purchase parking must do so before 11:59 p.m. tonight. …

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Stamkos could begin light contact in Saturday's skate

Lightning star center Steven Stamkos says he hopes to begin practicing with light contact in Saturday's skate, the next step in his rehab from a broken right tibia.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning star center Steven Stamkos says he hopes to begin practicing with light contact in Saturday's skate, the next step in his rehab from a broken right tibia.

Lightning star center Steven Stamkos says he hopes to begin practicing with light contact in Saturday's skate, the next step in his rehab from a broken right tibia.

Stamkos, who suffered the injury Nov. 11, said the 10-week x-ray taken Thursday night was encouraging, and if everything continutes to progress, he may be able to play in one of the Lightning's two home games (Feb. 6, Feb. 8) before the Olympic break. Stamkos has worn a red non-contact jersey during the team's practices the past week, but could start getting pushed more physically in Saturday's skate, with a key how his leg responds.

"I'm very pleased with how the bone is healing," Stamkos said. "I think it's pretty close to a point where it comes down to how I'm feeling out there."

Stamkos x-rays revealed enough bone formation where the leg is stable, and while there's some soft tissue pain, he's felt good each time he's tested it further, including doing more jumping in the gym Thursday night. …

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Stamkos takes first spill, but "big step" in recovery

Steven Stamkos said Thursday was a "big step" in his recovery from a broken right tibia.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Steven Stamkos said Thursday was a "big step" in his recovery from a broken right tibia.

When Lightning star center Steven Stamkos slipped and fell to the ice during Thursday's morning skate, he didn't hold his breath, or his surgically-repaired right leg.

"I was kind of laughing," Stamkos said. "But it was kind of nice, mentally, to fall because it's the first time I've fallen in 10 weeks. So I had a good streak going. But just knowing everything was fine, I got right back up and didn’t feel any pain whatsoever. So, that was nice."

Stamkos said Thursday was a "big step" in his recovery from a broken right tibia. He still wore a red jersey, but he participated in every drill for the first time and felt he kept up. The next step would be getting cleared for contact.

There's still no timetable for Stamkos' return; his goal was to be back to play for Team Canada in the Sochi Olympics next month, and there's seven Lightning games between now and then.

But Stamkos, who was set to have his 10-week x-ray Thursday night, remains optimistic. …

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Jimmy Howard's injury stirs Olympics talk around Ben Bishop

Ben Bishop said he hasn't heard from anyone from USA Hockey, and Detroit general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Monday he considered Jimmy Howard's injury minor and called him day-to-day.

AP photo

Ben Bishop said he hasn't heard from anyone from USA Hockey, and Detroit general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Monday he considered Jimmy Howard's injury minor and called him day-to-day.

News that Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard re-injured his left knee Monday against the Blues -- the same knee that sidelined him for nearly three weeks earlier in the season -- and will be out at least a week stirred up speculation Lightning goalie Ben Bishop could be in line for an Olympic call-up if Howard is out any length of time.

Howard, Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick and Buffalo's Ryan Miller were named to the U.S. team. Bishop has said he was told by Panthers general manager Dale Tallon to be on standby in case of injuries. The Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi, Russia, begins Feb. 12.

"I haven't herd anything so, who knows?" Bishop said after Tuesday's practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "It's not a concern of mine. It wasn't before. It won't be now."

Bishop said he hasn't heard from anyone from USA Hockey, and Detroit general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Monday he considered Howard's injury minor.

"And who knows that the list is?" Bishop said. "There might be more guys in front of me. It's not anything for me to think about. We have a job to do here." …

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Marty St. Louis is the NHL's first star of the week

Marty St. Louis had five goals -- including Saturday's four-goal game against the Sharks -- and eight points this past week.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Marty St. Louis had five goals -- including Saturday's four-goal game against the Sharks -- and eight points this past week.

Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis was named the NHL's first star for the week ending Sunday. In five games, St. Louis had five goals -- including Saturday's four-goal game against the Sharks -- and eight points.

Here is the announcement from the league:

Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis was named the NHL's first star for the week ending Sunday. In five games, St. Louis had five goals -- including Saturday's four-goal game against the Sharks -- and eight points.

Here is the announcement from the league:

 

ST. LOUIS, QUICK AND CRAWFORD NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS' OF THE WEEK


                NEW YORK (Jan. 20, 2014) - Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St.
Louis, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and Chicago Blackhawks
goaltender Corey Crawford have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the
week ending Jan. 19.

FIRST STAR - MARTIN ST. LOUIS, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING …

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