Johnson might play tonight, Carle scratched
There was an encouraging sign for the Lightning Saturday morning, as center Tyler Johnson participated in the optional morning skate.
Johnson, who didn't skate Friday and was questionable for tonight, could play against the Bruins, coach Jon Cooper said.
When asked if forwards Cedric Paquette (ankle) and Jonathan Drouin (lower body) will play tonight, Cooper said, "probably not."
The biggest twist, however, is veteran defenseman Matt Carle, 31, being scratched. Carle was the last player off the ice for the optional skate, and confirmed he's out tonight. Carle, the team's highest paid defenseman ($5.5 million), is a minus-3 through 11 games this season, averaging 18 minutes, nine seconds of ice time.
Carle admitted he was disappointed.
"You want to play every game," Carle said. "So whether you're hurt or not, you want to play every game."
When asked what Cooper told him about the scratch, Carle didn't offer too much.
"I'll let Coop make comments about that," Carle said. "Better coming from him than me. I'll let him speak to that."
With Carle out, Nikita Nesterov would take his place in the lineup.
While this would be new territory for Carle, it would be similar to how veteran Eric Brewer was scratched early last season, likely partly due to performance as well as being a victim of the young depth at defensemen. Of course, Brewer ended up eventually being traded to the Ducks. Carle said there's nothing more to read into this situation than tonight. But you'd have to imagine if Carle isn't going to play, at least regularly, there's a possibility he could be involved in trade talks. It just makes sense.
Even though Carle has struggled at times, especially during the postseason last year, he's been a professional and provided leadership, which I'm sure made it a tough decision for the coaches.