Nate Thompson says it's business as usual in first game back after puck to the face
Lightning center Nate Thompson went to the front of the net during Tuesday's morning skate in Winnipeg and faced defenseman Eric Brewer who launched a slap shot right at Thompson.
Thompson didn't flinch, notable because during Saturday's first period against the Capitals, Mike Green's slap shot opened an eight-stitch gash above his right eye. The visor, which was destroyed, saved him from even worse injury.
"Over it," Thompson said in the locker room after Tuesday's skate. "It's done and in the past. I've been doing this my whole career, blocking shots, puck going by my head."
Coach Jon Cooper said he is not worried about any lingering affects for Thompson because "he's a tough kid."
Thompson did sit out Sunday's game at Buffalo, but Cooper said Thompson had indicated he was physically okay to play. "But he just wanted a little time to relax and get his head straight."
Thompson said he got numerous texts and messages from his family, friends and fiancee Cristin Stuart, who, by the way, is sister of Jets defenseman Mark Stuart. But he has assured them he is fine and will play tonight against Winnipeg.
"Those things don't happen very often," Thompson said, "so go about business as usual and get out there in front of those shots and block them."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets the start in net for the Lightning. ... Right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) also is back in the lineup. ... Forward Tom Pyatt is out with what is described as an upper-body injury. He left Sunday's game in Buffalo in the first period after a hard check from Sabres defenseman Mike Weber. ... Goaltender Anders Lindback, who tonight will miss his 12th game, said his high ankle sprain is improving "every day," but did not sound quite ready to get in to a game. He said he feels fine when skating, generally, but still has discomfort when he gets into his butterfly stance.Lindback did, however, hint he might force himself to play simply because he is "a young guy. I need games. I need to play and get experience. I want to get in there. I want to prove myself." Cooper said the decision to play is up to Lindback. "I don't know, at some point some of these injuries -- he's got that sprain down there -- I think it becomes a mental thing. It's not like it's a bone break and you can watch it heal. You never want to put somebody in a position where mentally they don't feel they are ready, so it's up to Lindy. When he's ready he'll tell us. We're just going to wait and see." ... Lightning fans may remember James Wright, who played 48 games for Tampa Bay in 2009-10 and in December 2011 was traded to Florida for defensemen Mike Kostke and Evan Oberg. Wright has a goal and two points and is minus-5 in 32 games for the Jets. ... Center Steven Stamkos, who has one goal in his past eight games, said, "You always wish you could have done more, especially when you're not in the playoffs." Though still in the running for the Rocket Richard Tropphy (for most goals) and the Art Ross Trophy (for most points), Stamkos said, "Unfortunately, the things you do as an individual don't really feel good when your team is not winning. It's disappointing. You want to finish strong as an individual, learn some things, build on some things and ultimately get better as a player and that, ultimately, helps the team." ... Cooper, though calling himself "old school," is a proponent of visors. "Fortunately (for Thompson), it looked way worse than it was," Cooper said. "Hopefully, some guys who don't wear visors look at that and say, 'Maybe I should throw one on.' The game, with the way sticks are made, how fast these guys play and how hard they shoot pucks, now it's becoming a situation where it's just reactionary. You can't even react to get out of the way."