Sami Salo prepares for 800th game tonight vs. Capitals
Lightning defenseman Sami Salo will play in his 800th career game tonight at the Verizon Center against the Capitals. Coach Jon Cooper hinted there was at least a minor medical issue, but Salo said he expects to play.
"Tonight is one of those games you can look up at the board and say, '800 games, that's a lot of games many players never played close to," Salo said.
Salo, 38, who has battle numerous and serious injuries in his career, has had a relatively smooth ride this season, missing just two of 40 games with a lower-body injury. He has two goals, 16 points and is plus-11 while averaging 21:19 of ice time.
He said the compressed schedule has not been a hindrance.
"It's been fine for me," He said. "It would be totally different if you played 82 games like this. You get a lot of bumps and bruises, you don't get a lot of time to recover."
When Cooper was told it was Salo's 800th game, he joked that certainly he would scratch him.
As for the milestone, Cooper said, "Eight-hundred games? I've been a part of, what, eight? So, a little bit behind. But how taxing it is on their bodies, especially in this shortened lockout season ... the punishment these guys take. It's remarkable how you can play that many games and still sustain such a high level of play. It's impressive."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets his sixth straight start in net. ... Cooper said goaltender Anders Lindback, who will miss his 10th game tonight because of a high ankle sprain, is not ready. That means Mathieu Garon, who has not played since an April 2 shootout loss to the Panthers, will play Sunday at Buffalo. ... Defenseman Victor Hedman, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, said he is "100 percent and ready to go." ... Right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie apparently aggravated the upper-body injury that kept him out of six games from March 26-April 7 and likely will not play tonight. ... Forwards Ben Pouliot and Tom Pyatt are back in the lineup after both were scratched for two games. Pyatt said once he understood the benchings were not performance-based -- "We had numbers and other guys had to get looks, too" -- the situation was easier to deal with. But Pouliot admitted, "I was a little mad, no necessarily at the coach, just the matter of not playing. It was terrible. I'll be pumped to be back and I'll be pushing." ... Why were forwards Tyler Johnson and Brett Connolly sent back to AHL Syracuse? In part because it was time to get Pyatt and Pouliot back in the lineup, and the Lightning did not want either player sitting. "For the younger guys, they're eligible to play in Syracuse and go on a playoff run with those guys," Cooper said. "There was no sense in us sitting them out here and not having them play down there." ... After going 0-for-10 in Cooper's first four games, the Lightning power play is on a 6-for-13 tear in its past three games. Cooper said one modification was putting Vinny Lecavalier low near the net. "He's a big body in front of the net and he can make plays," Cooper said. "He's really helped us out." Cooper said even though the power play was not producing goals at first, it wasn't a momentum killer. "We were getting great chances, they just weren't going in," he said. "The power play, you don't have to score every time but you have to keep the momentum going and I think we're doing that and they're finally going in for us."