St. Louis (foot) playing tonight vs Wild
Marty St. Louis was still in a walking boot on Thursday, but that did not stop the Lightning captain from playing tonight against the Wild at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Brett Connolly, called up from AHL Syracuse, also is in the lineup. Pierre-Cedric Labrie is scratched.
St. Louis, who is off to a terrific start with 10 points on four goals and six assists in six games, was hit on his right foot by a Drew Doughty slap shot early in the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Kings.
Cooper said all tests were negative in that there are no broken bones and St. Louis cannot do more damage to the spot where he is hurt. The issue, then, is simply pain tolerance.
"I just don't want someone in there who is going to be apprehensive, not being the Marty we're used to seeing," Cooper said. "We'll find out game time. That will determine Brett's fate."
Cooper was talking about Brett Connolly, who was called up Wednesday night from AHL Syracuse, and who skated in the morning in St. Louis' right wing spot on a line with center Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone.
Whether or not to play St. Louis is an interesting decision. If he is willing and cannot further his injury, "Why wouldn't we play him?" Cooper said.
The schedule probably was a consideration in that Tampa Bay after games tonight against the Wild and Saturday against the Bruins, have four days off before it plays Oct. 24 against the Blackhawks. That would give St. Louis some healing time.
There also is the Vinny Lecavalier factor. Lecavalier was off to a great start last season when he was hit in the foot by a Sami Salo slap shot at the end of a Feb. 2 game against the Rangers. Lecavalier tried to play through the injury which he admitted later hampered his game.
"Ultimately, in the end, the decision will be up to the staff to determine whether he's going to play or not," Cooper said. "Marty has played in enough games to know if he can or if he can't go. Sometimes you have to take the players' competitiveness out of it, knowing how much he wants to play. We will talk to him about it, but I highly doubt he's going to walk out saying he doesn't want to play."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Ben Bishop, who is 4-0-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .939 save percentage, will get the start against the Wild. ... Defensemen Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie will be scratched for the sixth time in seven games. ... Cooper said St. louis' injury will not deter him from using his star players on the penalty kill because blocking shots is part of the game. "It used to be something that just the warriors blocked shots. Now, it's just about everybody blocks shots." Cooper pointed out that Malone scored his first goal of the season against the Kings when Salo's shot deflected in off his foot. "What if (he had gotten hurt)? Cooper said. "Would people be saying you shouldn't be in front of the net on a five-on-five? The way the game is played, the way guys shoot, the only way to really protect yourself is to wear protective padding." Bottom line, Cooper said, "The second we're fearing a guy getting hurt on a blocked shot, we're probably in the wrong sport." ... Added Stamkos, who also is being used more on the penalty kill: "Five-on-five you're going to block a shot, penalty kill you're going to block a shot, power play. If you have to block a shot you'll block a shot, so I don't think that changes anyone's mind-set or anything like that." ... Wild assistant coach Darryl Sydor, a member of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup team, got his first look at the renovations to the Times Forum, especially the oversized scoreboard. "I'm not sure if I'm going to watch the screen tonight or the ice?" he said. ... Zenon Konopka was known best for his fighting when he was with the Lightning from 2008-10, but he also was great at faceoffs. He still is and has won 40 of 56 draws this season. "It's a game within a game," he said. "You're trying to figure out what the other guy is going to do. if you can do that, you can counter." Konopka says he keeps a book "in your head" about opponent tendencies. "How their feet will set up, how high or low the guy's hands are on the stick," he said. "For some reason for me it clicks probably a lot quicker than other guys." ... Loved this quote from Wild coach Mike Yeo about how players should manage games in which they are not at their best. "You can have an off night, just don't make it a bad game." ... Connolly, wearing an "A" as an alternate captain, has just an assist in three games for Syracuse, but said a lot of his time has been about bringing together a team with personnel different from last season. "Just trying to be a leader and do the same things I did last year, not only play well but be a good teammate," he said. As for the disappointment of not winning a job with the Lightning out of camp, he said, "I just wanted to go down there (to Syracuse) and have a good attitude. I didn't want to go down there and sulk and be mad about it. I'm happy to be up here now and I'll be ready if they need me."