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Slumping Kucherov is a healthy scratch vs. Bruins



Rookie RW Nikita Kucherov admits he’s in a scoring slump, and that his confidence has dipped a bit recently.

So with the Lightning facing a big Bruins team Saturday, associate coach Rick Bowness said they made Kucherov a healthy scratch, hoping he can learn a lot from watching upstairs.

Kucherov burst onto the scene in scoring a goal in the first shot of his first shift of his NHL debut Nov. 25. But the offensively-gifted forward has tallied just one goal since Jan. 19, with 17 shots in his last 13 games, a stretch many young players go through.

“He’s a highly skilled rookie who hasn’t found the back of the net for a little bit and you can see him squeezing the stick a little bit,’’ Bowness said. “And this is a big physical team and it’s hard to find any room out there so if there is a night he can sit back and watch, this is the game. And one of the benefits of sitting above is you realize that sometimes there really is more time out there than you feel on the ice.”

More from Saturday's morning skate: Stamkos wasn’t the only Lightning player to get a letter added to his sweater this week. D Erik Brewer was also named an alternate captain for the rest of the season; C Nate Thompson and D Matt Carle will rotate as additional alternate captains, with Carle wearing the “A” at home games and Thompson on the road. Brewer, a former captain with the Blues, has already provided a leadership presence since arriving in 2011. But associate coach Rick Bowness said the nod is a “sign of recognition and respect for what we see and his teammates are well aware of it.”... G Ben Bishop will be in net for the Lightning... B.J. Crombeen and Ryan Malone will be scratches, with D Keith Aulie in as they go with 11 defenseman and seven forwards.... Bowness admits D Victor Hedman has had some off games recently, but says he's going to bounce back, pointing to how he's his own best critic.

[Last modified: Saturday, March 8, 2014 6:50pm]


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