Injured Malone says he's ready to go against the Senators
Lightning left wing Ryan Malone, who has missed eight games with a left shoulder injury, said he is ready to return to the lineup tonight against the Senators. Coach Jon Cooper said Malone will be a game-time decision.
"I'm feeling like I want to play hockey again," Malone said, and added. "It's just time to come back. We still have 10 games left, anything can happen, really. I just want to do anything I can to help the team."
Malone was hurt March 18 against the Flyers when he was run over by Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo, who took advantage of Malone when he was looking down trying to gain the puck. Lightning coaches, at the time, said the hit was clean, though Lightning players had a different view.
Malone was down the middle about the hit he said was to the back of his shoulder. He said he once put a similar hit on Pascal Dupuis and got a minor penalty. Rinaldo did not.
"It's one of those plays where some guys will hit you and some guys won't. He's one of those guys who will hit you," Malone said. "It's just what he does."
Other stuff from the morning skate: It doesn't sound as if defenseman Victor Hedman (lower body) will be playing any time soon. He is expected to miss at least the next two games. ... Ben Bishop will get his fourth straight start in net tonight when he goes against his former team for the first time. Bishop, 26, was acquired from Ottawa on Wednesday for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick. "When the puck drops, for me, all the distractions will go away," Bishop said, and added, "If you can't get excited for a game like this, then you have a problem." Bishop, who is 6 feet 7, is 1-2-0 in his four games for the Lightning with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage. He's been "great," Cooper said. The coach said his only concern is Bishop's stamina, "especially for those taller goalies it's a little bit more for him to get up and down." ... In the other locker room was Conacher, who said facing his former Lightning and AHL Norfolk and Syracuse teammates will be "weird. Those are guys I played with a long time, built some relationships with, and with more and more Syracuse guys getting called up it's even worse because I built good relationships with them." Conacher said he found out he was traded when a reporter from Canada's Rogers Sportsnet called his cell phone looking for comment. "That's when I got the shock," Conacher said. "I was like, 'Give me a couple of minutes.' Right after that, (Lightning GM Steve Yzerman) called. He apologized if I found out beforehand. No hard feelings. Tampa is a very loyal and honest organization. I have to thank them greatly for everything they've done for me. It's tough leaving that organization, but I found a new home and a new chapter in my life. I'm excited to be in Ottawa." Cooper, who coached Conacher at Norfolk, Syracuse and with the Lightning, said seeing Conacher on the other side will be "a little odd. I've gone to war with that kid for a year and a half. it hurts, especially with guys who you've won with before." ... Goaltender Anders Lindback participated in the morning skate and said he is close to returning from a high ankle sprain. Cooper certainly wants to see his other goalie in a game. "We need to see him," Cooper said. "He needs to play minutes. He's a huge part of our future. I think people think, 'Well, you traded for Bishop.' To me, it's 1A and 1A, so they need to get in there. They need to get dressed together. They need to talk about the game, and that's all from playing." ... Defenseman Mark Barberio plays his first NHL game tonight after his call-up pfrom Syracuse, where he had eight goals, 40 points and was plus-7 in 70 games. Of all Tampa Bay's high-profile prospects, Barberio took the longest to be called up this season. he said watching his buddies get promoted was not difficult. "Steve (Yzerman) and (Syracuse GM Julien BriseBois) were straightforward with me from the start," Barberio said. "They wanted to give their prospects time, and that's the way it is. When guys got called up, guys in Syracuse were happy the guys were getting a chance to play. We're always around the TV cheering them on. It's just cool that I get my chance." ... Forward Rob Zamuner will be honored tonight as part of the Lightning's 20th anniversary celebration. "For Tampa, I played here seven years. I grew up here in a sense. I always feel like when someone asks me where did you play, Tampa is the place I say frst. Some real fond memories here." ... And finally, forward Alex Killorn said, ultimately, it was "a stupid thing to do" to lean over the boards with his stick Sunday to try to interfere as Alex Ovechkin carried the puck past the Tampa Bay bench on his way to scoring an empty-net goal. "I figured I was going to get a penalty so he wouldn't score," Killorn said. Ovechkin kept control of the puck and shot and scored on his own. But NHL rule 56.7 says when a player from the bench interferes or tries to interfere before a shot at an empty net, a goal is automatically awarded. "I didn't know it was going to be an automatic goal," Killorn said. "I thought it would be a smart play."