Vasilevskiy starts against Penguins, Marchessault likely out
Despite Ben Bishop coming off a shutout Tuesday in Colorado, Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net tonight for the Lightning against the Penguins.
Coach Jon Cooper said the team needs Vasilevskiy to get some playing time during this stretch of six games before the All-Star break, hoping to get the Russian at least two of those starts. Vasilevskiy last played Saturday, performing well in a 3-2 overtime win in Vancouver.
Cooper didn't rule out Vasilevskiy making a trip back to AHL Syracuse to get action, like he has several times this season.
"We don't count on having Vasilevskiy have to go back, but if he does, he will," Cooper said. "It's proven that it's been successful that he's gone back and played a game and come up for us and been successful for us. What we don't want to be in a situation where somebody is sitting 10 days, two weeks. We want to keep both of these guys going."
As for the lineup, Cooper said they will have 21 players in warmups tonight and decide then whether it will go 11/7, like it did in Tuesday's 4-0 win, or back to 12/6. Jonathan Marchessault and Erik Condra were among the last to come off the ice at today's optional morning skate, along with Bishop, an indication they could be scratched.
Marchssault said he doesn't think he's in, which would make the fourth straight game he's sat out as healthy scratch. Marchessault last played Jan. 8 in Calgary, having scored six goals in 23 games since a late October callup. Marchesault may have played his way onto the roster, now waiver-eligible, but knows it's no guarantees to crack the lineup.
"It's a good team, and a healthy team," Marchessault said. "It's hard to break the lineup. It's unfortunate, but I guess we're winning right now and I'm in the organization. Just keep working hard, maybe things will open up.
"I was doing good, want to play. But that's just the way it goes, it's my first year, you got to pay your dues. It's just the way it goes."
More from optional skate: Several players didn't participate in the optional skate, including Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, Tyler Johnson, Matt Carle and Ryan Callahan... Cooper said C Vladislav Namestnikov's game has grown the most during the Lightning's first-half bout with injuries. "He didn't give our coaching staff a chance to push him back down the lineup.".. Cooper continued to praise LW Ondrej Palat, a big reason why the Lightning has had a resurgence. Cooper said you realize when he's in the lineup how important Palat is, and when he's out, you know how much you miss him.