Matt Carle on being scratched: 'It's gutwrenching'
Most of the Lightning players had already bussed back to the hotel by the time veteran defenseman Matt Carle came off the ice Tuesday morning.
Carle, 31, joined wing Erik Condra for extra work, with both scheduled to be healthy scratches tonight for the Lightning against the Flames. This is the first season Carle has been a healthy scratch, and he's done it often, this being the seventh game he'll sit out.
And it doesn't any easier when coach Jon Cooper breaks the news.
"It's gutwrenching," Carle said.
Carle has zero points in 33 games this season, a minus-6. For a player with five 30-point seasons, it's been frustrating. But Carle is handling it like a pro, staying postiive, wanting to be ready when he gets called upon. He admits he feels "guilty" watching from the press box, not feeling like he's working as hard as his teammates.
"He knows his role on our team," Cooper said. "He may not like it every single night, but he gives us a chance to win when he's in the lineup. When he's not in the lineup, he's working his tail off to make sure he's ready when he gets back."
Carle, under contract through 2017-18 with a $5.5 million cap hit, hasn't been approached about his modified no-move clause, saying he hopes he finishes his contract in Tampa Bay.
"That's out of my control," he said.
This also hasn't exactly been how Condra drew things up when he signed a three-year deal with the Lightning on July 1. Condra will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game, coming after he missed six games last month with a lower-body injury.
"I knew coming in they had 12-13 good forwards," said Condra, who spent his first five seasons with Ottawa. "You have to battle your way in the lineup. It's not easy to stay, no matter who you are. You've got to work your way out of it."
Cooper said Condra will play sometime on this four-game road trip, pointing out with everyone healthy and good line chemistry, he's just the odd man out. Condra compared it to last season with Ottawa, where he was a healthy scratch at times early in the season but had a stellar run in the second half on the Senators comeback into the playoffs.
"I started slow last year in Ottawa, and ended up trying to work my way back and playing 17-18 minutes a night," Condra said. "It's a funny league how it works sometimes."
More from morning skate: G Ben Bishop will start in net, with D Nikita Nesterov likely in for Carle... There was a scare late in the skate when C Vladislav Namestnikov barreled into G Andrei Vasilevskiy, knocking Vasilevskiy to the ice and his helmet off. Vasilevskiy was shaken up, but the only damage done was a cut tongue, having bit it. "Nobody gets insurance for a little scratch," Vasilevskiy joked. Said Cooper: "It was a bit more gory than it was serious." The All-Star teams are announced Wednesday, and there should be a couple Lightning candidates for the Atlantic Division team. Bishop figures to be one of the two goalies, with the Panthers Roberto Luongo. There's also six forwards, three defensemen for each division for the Jan. 31 3-on-3 tourney; C Steven Stamkos also could be picked. "It'd be a huge honor," Bishop said. "As a little kid, you used to watch that all the time, fun thing to watch. So to be part of it one day would be really special."