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Lightning recalls Vladislav Namestnikov from Syracuse Crunch

The Lightning has recalled forward Vladislav Namestnikov from AHL-Syracuse, the team announced Wednesday evening.

The 22-year-old has appeared in 26 NHL games this season, recording three goals and four assists. He last played with the Lightning on Feb. 12.

The Lightning was down to 12 forwards after trading Brett Connolly to Boston for two draft picks on Monday. In 34 games with the Crunch this season, Namestnikov has 14 goals and 21 assists.

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Matt Carle sheds no-contact jersey, and more Lightning notes

Defenseman Matt Carle shed his red, no-contact jersey and participated fully in today’s practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Defenseman Matt Carle shed his red, no-contact jersey and participated fully in today’s practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

BRANDON – As expected, defenseman Matt Carle shed his red, no-contact jersey and participated fully in today’s practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

“For me, it was good,” Carle said. “Just trying to get my confidence back and be able to do whatever I want on the ice, obviously getting back in shape and being able to make reads and get my timing down on certain things. It’s a good step in the right direction.”

Carle has been sidelined since January, when he underwent surgery to repair muscles in his abdomen. Carle said he is still hoping to return next week.

The 30-year-old has played in 46 games this season, with four goals and 10 assists.

Other quick notes from practice:

Goalie Ben Bishop practiced and appeared fine, a day after taking a puck below the belt.

With his 5-on-3 goal Tuesday night, forward Ryan Callahan is up to 20 goals this season. It’s the fourth time in his career (and first since 2011-12) that he’s reached that milestone.

“It’s a nice milestone to hit but nothing to hang your hat on,” Callahan said. “Just got to keep going.”  …

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Braydon Coburn gets to work with Lightning after trade deadline

Braydon Coburn, second from left, celebrates a goal with former Flyers teammates during the 2011 playoffs.

Getty Images

Braydon Coburn, second from left, celebrates a goal with former Flyers teammates during the 2011 playoffs.

TAMPA – After what he called a rollercoaster trade deadline, defenseman Braydon Coburn has arrived with his new team.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Coburn joined the Lightning for today’s morning skate at Amalie Arena and was paired with Jason Garrison. Coburn said he was surprised and shocked by the trade – which sent defenseman Radko Gudas, a first-round pick and a third-rounder to the Flyers.

“I just never thought it was going to happen,” Coburn said.

Coburn has some familiarity with his some of his new teammates. He played with Garrison for Canada in last year’s world championships and used to sit on the plane next to defenseman Matt Carle when they played together in Philadelphia.

“It feels a little different,” Coburn said. “I’ll adjust quickly.”

The Lightning is counting on it.

Coach Jon Cooper said he believes in his team’s ability to score, and the Lightning’s 3.25 goals per game are the most in the league. But defense is always at a premium, so Cooper was pleased with the acquisition of a top-four defenseman.

“We want to make a run,” Cooper said. “We have to defend better.”  …

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Trades make for "bittersweet" day for Lightning players

Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle woke up Monday morning to text messages from a shocked Radko Gudas, who found out in the middle of the night he was traded to the Flyers.

"As good as a buddy Gudy was, it was hard to see him go," Carle said.

But then, Carle, realized another good friend, former Flyers teammate Braydon Coburn, was coming to Tampa Bay as part of the deal (which also sent a first and third round pick to Philly). Coburn, 30, a veteran defenseman, fulfilled Tampa Bay's major need for a playoff push.

"It was a bittersweet day," Carle said. "Our team got a little better, but it's tough to see Gudy go."

Carle, 30, knows what it's like, having been traded twice in his career, and made sure to speak to both Gudas and Brett Connolly, who was traded to Boston. But Carle was excited to see Tampa Bay bring in Coburn, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound left-shot defenseman who will fit right in. …

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Yzerman: Trade gives Lightning better chance in playoffs

Steve Yzerman acquired Braydon Coburn from the Flyers, admitting he paid a "premium" in shipping injured defenseman Radko Gudas, a first and third round pick in this year's draft.

AP photo

Steve Yzerman acquired Braydon Coburn from the Flyers, admitting he paid a "premium" in shipping injured defenseman Radko Gudas, a first and third round pick in this year's draft.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman didn't sleep much Sunday night.

"Couple hours," Yzerman said. "Up late, up early."

That's because Yzerman worked through the night to swing two separate deals - that were contingent on another - to land the veteran defenseman the Lightning needed for its deeper playoff run without "mortgaging a lot of our future." Yzerman acquired Braydon Coburn from the Flyers, admitting he paid a "premium" in shipping injured defenseman Radko Gudas, a first and third round pick in this year's draft.

Yzerman didn't like giving up one of his two 2015 first-rounders, but realized, in this market, he had to. And Yzerman eased the blow by getting two second round picks from the Bruins for wing Brett Connolly, believing Tampa Bay's forward depth can "absorb" the loss of the former sixth overall pick, who will be free agent this summer. Both deals were announced around 3 a.m. …

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Braydon Coburn excited for 'new beginning' with Lightning

The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Braydon Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs.

AP photo

The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Braydon Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs.

Defenseman Braydon Coburn knows trade rumors are part of playing in Philadelphia, so he had his phone off as he went to sleep the eve of the deadline.

It wasn't until his wife, Nadine, woke up at 6:30 a.m to tend to their one-and-a-half year-old son Blair that she told her husband to check his phone. Coburn, 30, had been traded to Tampa Bay.

"I was a little surprised, I was kind of shocked," Coburn said in a phone interview. "I understand it's part of the business. But it's a big new beginning for me. I'm excited."

The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs. Coburn, a left-handed shot, could slide into a top-four role, a solid skater who takes pride in being "hard to play against." He's got one more year left with a $4.5 million cap hit, so he's not a rental. …

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Lightning trade Connolly and Gudas, acquire Coburn

The Flyers' Braydon Coburn checks the Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexander Wennberg into the boards during a game last month in Philadelphia.

[Associated Press]

The Flyers' Braydon Coburn checks the Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexander Wennberg into the boards during a game last month in Philadelphia.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman got a veteran defenseman he was looking for, but it took some late night deals, and parting with a couple players off his regular roster to do it.

And Yzerman may not be done, with the deadline at 3 p.m. Monday.

Tampa Bay traded former first-round pick Brett Connolly to the Bruins for a second-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2016. The Lightning also acquired Flyers veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn, a left-handed shot, for injured defenseman Radko Gudas, a first and third-round pick.

Both deals were first reported by SportsNet's Chris Johnston around 2 a.m. Yzerman confirmed both of the deals, and will likely comment on them more later Monday morning. …

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Lightning players confident even if no trade

Just like everyon else, the Lightning players are waiting to see what general manager Steve Yzerman does before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Yzerman is hoping to add a veteran defenseman, saying it's a "50-50" chance. Like captain Steven Stamkos said, every team could use another piece or two to help down the stretch, but Tampa Bay believes it can contend if it stands pat.

"Every team I've been on, you're happy with your group," said veteran wing Brenden Morrow said. "As much as you try to stay away from reading articles, we've heard if there's a veteran defenseman out there, with the injuries we've had, we could make a trade. And we'd be happy to have that. But all we can really control is what happens on the ice. It's not up to us what goes in, what goes out. But we're happy with our group, we're confident with our group."

The Lightning feels its in a pretty good position, second place in the Atlantic Division, five points behind Montreal. It has a young core, including many players that came up together through the AHL. …

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Lightning GM Steve Yzerman: A "50-50" chance he makes a deal

With the trade deadline looming Monday, the Lightning would still like to add a veteran defenseman, preferably a right-handed shot. 

Whether a deal comes to fruition remains to be seen.

"It's 50-50," general manager Steve Yzerman said Saturday.

But with the prices pretty high so far, veteran defensemen like Andrej Sekera going for a first-round pick and a prospect, Yzerman isn't desperate enough to pay more than he's comfortable with.

"I'm not going to force anything," Yzerman said. "We'll do what makes sense. I'd like to do it, but not going to just do it do it. There's deals you'd consider, 'Hey I overpaid, but I had to do it.' I don't know that that player is out there."

The Lightning (38-19-6), which entered Saturday second in the Atlantic Division and tied for third in the Eastern Conference, is in a pretty good spot. It is expecting to get veteran defenseman Matt Carle (abdominal surgery) back in a couple weeks. …

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Lightning goalie Ben Bishop debuts glow-in-the-dark mask (w video)

Ben Bishop makes one of his 28 saves as the Lightning shuts out the Blackhawks with a final score of 4 to 0.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ben Bishop makes one of his 28 saves as the Lightning shuts out the Blackhawks with a final score of 4 to 0.

Goalie Ben Bishop debuted his new glow-in-the-dark mask Friday night, and picked up a shutout in a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks.

“It’s 1-for-1,” Bishop said with a smile.

 

The mask was designed by Dave Gunnarsson, whom Bishop has worked with for years. The mask originally just had a small Lightning decal that was glow in the dark, due to some special paint. Bishop requested the rest of the mask, which features lightning bolts, get similar treatment, the blue and white popping out.

“It’s pretty cool,” Bishop said. “Not many people have it so it’s kind of fun to be the first, hope the fans like it.”

The mask was inspired by the sci-fi film “Tron.” Though Bishop hasn’t seen the movie, he said he’ll have to. And Bishop was surprised the mask got so much attention on social media after first featured on yahoo.com's Puck Daddy last week. 

“I didn’t know it would blow up like it did,” he said. "But it's fun."

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Video: Jonathan Drouin's "ridiculous" assist makes ESPN Top-10 plays

Center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates his goal with right wing J.T. Brown (23) after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) for the first goal of the game during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates his goal with right wing J.T. Brown (23) after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) for the first goal of the game during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening.

A few Lightning players have called rookie wing Jonathan Drouin a "magician" with the puck.

Drouin, 19, flashed off those skills with a spectacular assist on Tampa Bay's first goal in Friday's 4-0 win over the Blackhawks. The play even cracked SportsCenter's Top-10 plays Friday night.

"A pass very few players in this league can make," captain Steven Stamkos said.

Drouin, playing on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and J.T. Brown, started the play with a strong forecheck in the corner. It led to Blackhawks' Teuvo Teravainen losing the puck, his clearing attempt hitting the side of the net. Drouin collected it, then made a quick behind-the-back pass through the legs of Teravainen in front to a wide-open Boyle, who put it in.

Boyle thought about coming to forecheck until Drouin buzzed in, figuring the touted prospect would find him. Boyle said he just didn't think it'd be "quite as nice as it was." Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, has just two goals this season, but 23 assists in 52 games, and none were better than this one.

“Jeez. A heck of a play," Boyle said. "A ridiculous play. Pretty much anyone can put that one in.”

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Follow Lightning coverage on ScribbleLive tonight

The Times always tries to bring you the best Lightning coverage.

And, tonight, we're going to experiment with that we hope will make it even better.

Follow us on our ScribbleLive stream, and it'll be a one-stop shop for Tweets, photos and analysis from tonight's Lightning-Blackhawks game (7:30 p.m.), which is sold-out at Amalie Arena. Whether that's updates from me, or photos from our Dirk Shadd (@dirkshadd), we'll try to attack every angle. Post-game, we'll have some videos/audio from the lockeroom. Post comments and interact if you'd like.

Starting at 6:30 p.m, go to tbtim.es/ese to see our coverage.

We'll see you then!

 

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Andrei Vasilevskiy tries new moves in spot start in AHL

Andrei Vasilevskiy got to experiment with some new techniques during Syracuse's 4-3 loss to Rochester on Wednesday.

Getty Images

Andrei Vasilevskiy got to experiment with some new techniques during Syracuse's 4-3 loss to Rochester on Wednesday.

For rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, Wednesday's spot start for AHL Syracuse provided more than just game experience during a long break in the Lightning schedule.

It also served as some key practice. Coming off his worst NHL start, allowing five goals in 18 shots in Sunday's 5-4 loss in Colorado, Vasilevskiy, 20, said he watched a lot of video. And Vasilevskiy got to experiment some new techniques during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to Rochester.

"We lose, but I got good practice," Vasilevskiy said. "I tried a couple new moves in the game and I hope to be ready for the next game here."

When Vasilevskiy's next Lightning start will be remains to be seen; G Ben Bishop starts tonight against the Blackhawks, and the team has just one more back-to-back situation left this season. Coach Jon Cooper said Vasilevskiy will likely play once, or twice a week, depending on the schedule, how the team is playing, etc. Cooper pointed out they don't want to have to "ride" Bishop down the stretch like last season, hoping to keep him "mentally and physically fresh if we get into the big dance."

The backup role, with sporadic starts, is an adjustment for Vasilevskiy. …

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Victor Hedman okay, but Matt Carle still couple weeks away

Considering the limited Lightning depth on defense, it likely caused some concern when top defenseman Victor Hedman left Thursday's practice early.

But coach Jon Cooper insisted it was just as a precaution, that Hedman is expected to play Friday against the Blackhawks.

"He didn't feel right," Cooper said. "But I'm not worried about tomorrow."

However, it appears defenseman Matt Carle is further away from returning than originally thought. Carle, who had abdominal surgery in mid-January, was expected to be back early next week, at the six-week mark. Carle has been practicing the past few days in a red non-contact jersey.

But Cooper indicated Thursday that Carle is still a couple weeks away, making it a mid-March return.

"There's definite progression," Cooper said. "But he had surgery. When you start feeling better, then it becomes a mental thing. I'm still looking two weeks from now until we really get to see when he might be back in."

The Lightning (37-19-6) have just 20 games remaining, with players realize this is going to be a sprint to the finish in a playoff push. …

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Andrei Vasilevskiy back to Syracuse, but probably not for long

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stretches his leg to make a toe-tip kick save against Predators center Mike Ribeiro in the first period Feb. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

[Associated Press]

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stretches his leg to make a toe-tip kick save against Predators center Mike Ribeiro in the first period Feb. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Lightning has sent goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy back to AHL Syracuse for what will likely be a quick stint.

The team confirmed the move Wednesday morning, with no corresponding roster move. Vasilevskiy is expected to start tonight in Syracuse’s game against Rochester.

The Lightning is in the middle of a four-day break after a long road trip and won’t play again until Friday night. The move gives the 20-year-old Vasilevskiy a chance to stay fresh and gain a little more experience while the rest of the Lightning rests.

 

In 10 NHL games this season, Vasilevskiy is 4-3-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. 

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