Lineup is tweaked as Tampa Bay prepares for the Sabres
Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Saturday noted how the schedule "tightens up" in November. With thatin mind, as well as the belief it is inevitable roster depth will be tested, he shook up the lineup a bit for Saturday's game with the Sabres. Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were added. Defenseman Andrej Sustr and wing P.C. Labrie are scratched.
It is just the second games this season for Aulie and Barberio.
"We've had some guys who have been sitting out," Cooper said. "We've got games coming up and we have to get those guys in and get them some reps."
Barberio, who hasn't played since the season-opener on Oct. 3, and Aulie, whose only game was Oct. 8 at Buffalo, said they were looking forward to the chance.
"But you can't come in and try to do too much or think about the next game," Barberio said. "I get to play tonight, so that's my focus, and putting my best foot forward. Keep things simple. Just try to move the puck up quick and get in the rush if there's a chance. Just play my game."
Added Aulie: "Focus on the little things and things that are going to help the team, not try to do too much. Sometimes players try to make up for lost time and try to do things they wouldn't normally do. But for me, it's just going out and doing the little things well."
Give Barberio credit, too, for understanding his situation as an NHL rookie. While saying sitting out "is something you don't want to get used to," he added, "It's an adjustment period when you move up to the NHL. I do have to bide my time a little bit. But I'm definitely excited to get my second chance to play."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Only a few players actually skated. One was defenseman Victor Hedman (right foot), who is good to go tonight against the Sabres. ... Ben Bishop gets the start in net. Anders Lindback will start Sunday at Florida, Cooper said, adding that likely won't change regardless of how Bishop plays against the Sabres. ... Buffalo is 28th in the league standings, and the Lightning, at 6-3-0 is coming off a thrilling 6-5 overtime win over the Blackhawks, last season's Stanley Cup champs. So, how does Cooper keep his guys from perhaps looking past the Sabres? "The one thing you can't do is look at the standings," Cooper said. "We've won a couple of games here to start the season but I don't think any team can sit here and say, 'This is who we're playing. We're going to give a half-hearted effort,' especially us." ... Interesting take from Ryan Malone on hits to the head. "The game is moving so fast. If you're mind is made up you're going to finish your check, it takes a split second for a guy to change the angle. It happens so fast. If you're in the stands watching or up in the press box watching, it looks a lot slower that when it's happening on the ice. So, it's hard. But as a player you need to be aware of the circumstances about what might happen."