Lightning's Paquette: 'It's just not my year'
During Thursday's practice, center Cedric Paquette took a slap shot off his left shin and buckled to the ice.
After getting helped off to the dressing room, Paquette would return after practice at the Ice Sports Forum ended, drawing a large ovation from teammates.
"It's just not my year," he said afterwards.
Paquette has had some bad luck, missing a good chunk of the season due to a right foot/ankle injury suffered blocking a shot during the preseason and then reaggravated in November.
"He's a warrior though," coach Jon Cooper said.
Injuries aside, Paquette hasn't been happy with his game, entering Friday's game with just two goals and two assists in 26 games. He's still trying to find his confidence.
"It's more my offensive side," Paquette said. "I'm just playing a little bit too simple right now. I don't want to make a mistake. I wasn't thinking about that last year, and I do this year. It's just confidence."
Paquette set career highs with 12 goals and seven assists last season, part of the Lightning's shutdown line during the Stanley Cup Final. His defensive play, and physicality is there, but there's still room to improve. He's been on the fourth line with C Brian Boyle and RW Erik Condra.
"It takes time," he said. "I'm playing well, but I think I could play better than that."
WAITING GAME: Meanwhile, RW Jonathan Marchessault continues to sit. Marchessault has six goals in 26 games, as many as C Tyler Johnson and C Valtteri Filppula, one more than RW Ryan Callahan. But Marchessault is slated to be a healthy scratch Friday, having played in just four games since Jan. 5.
"It's hard to come back, play one game, sit out two or three," Marchessault said. "But it is what it is. Every hockey player, you want to skip a few steps. But everyone went through that. It's just the way it goes."
Cooper said they've done a "decent" job in making sure everyone gets to play, but with 14 healthy forwards, and the team playing so well Wednesday in a 3-1 win over Detroit, they wanted to stick with the same lineup.
"Would we like to get everybody in? We've been trying to do our best," Cooper said. "And we will eventually. Everybody gets in, that's been a big key to us having the ability to get other guys in without changing the way we play. It's just tough when everybody's healthy and guys are going to sit. Every team has the same problem. No coach likes to sit here and say, 'We're fully healthy, Good, you have to sit.' That's not how it is. We want everybody playing, cause when everybody's playing, the team is sharper, players are sharper. But we just really liked the way we played the other night and we're going to stick with it."
TRADE WINDS: D Matt Carle, the team's highest paid defenseman ($5.5 million), will also be a healthy scratch for the sixth time in the last seven games, and nine of 12. You have to wonder if he might be part of trade talks, the veteran essentially replaced by fellow left-shot D Nikita Nesterov. Carle, under contract through 2017-18, has a modified no-move clause.
There's still believed to be interest in RW Jonathan Drouin, who requested a deal back in November and is at home in Montreal working out as he waits the Lightning's next move. If there is a deal eventually, it could be of the multi-player variety. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has said he's aggressively and actively trying to trade the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, and he's been scouting recently. The Blues, thought to have interest in Drouin, have had reps at a few Lightning games, including director of player personnel Rob DiMaio at Wednesday's Wings-Lightning game. The Wild, Candiens also had reps here Wednesday. Per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo, the Lightning had a couple reps in Madison Square Garden Thursday night for the Wild-Rangers game, including assistant GM Pat Verbeek.
Time will tell if there's a deal made before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
More from morning skate: G Ben Bishop will start in net. Expect G Andrei Vasilevskiy to play in one of the back-to-back games Monday (Ottawa) or Tuesday (Montreal). The Lightning got a boost with Penguins star C Evgeni Malkin (lower body) out of the lineup. "A big loss," D Victor Hedman said. Malkin usually beats up on Tampa Bay pretty well, and his absence will likely allow the Lightning to focus more on Sidney Crosby, who is coming off a hat trick. The Lightning power play has scored in four straight games and has five goals in that stretch. "We're attacking more," Cooper said. "If you watch, when we haven't had success, we've just been really perimeter. We've had problem of trying to pick our spots of when to shoot, when not to shoot. When we're apprehensive in shooting the puck, it goes south from there. It's more of our attack and shoot-first mentality. That attitude that no shot is a bad shot, that's when we're really good."