Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning journal: Dan Girardi ready to return after getting hit by puck

TAMPA — D Dan Girardi has blocked more than 1,700 shots during his NHL career, but the one he stopped during the second period Sunday in Detroit with the side of his neck was the first to hit him above the shoulders, he said.

"A puck coming that hard at your neck, it’s pretty scary," Girardi said after Tuesday’s morning skate.

The shot by the Red Wings’ Martin Frk caught Girardi between his jaw and chin and knocked him out of the game but won’t keep him sidelined long. Girardi was ready to return to the lineup Tuesday against the visiting Hurricanes.

"I don’t know how he does it," coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday morning. "He’s amazing."

Girardi participated in the morning skate and the pregame warmups but was scratched. Cooper said it would be a game-time decision, adding that Girardi likely would miss only Tuesday’s game.

Girardi said he briefly lost feeling in his arm but passed all the concussion tests. He was joking with his teammates after the period in an effort to lighten the mood.

"Very fortunate that it hit me in the spot where it did," Girardi said, noting it missed his jaw and chin. "Obviously, the neck’s a little sore, but considering what happened, I’m pretty lucky."

Girardi, who leads the Lightning and was tied for sixth in the NHL before Tuesday’s game with 96 blocked shots, doesn’t remember doing it but said he must have seen the shot heading for him in time to turn his head.

"(Frk) can shoot a puck pretty hard. He got me right in the (butt) before that. Like two minutes before that, not even … 30 seconds," Girardi said. "Very lucky that didn’t hit anywhere that caused a lot of damage. Just happy to be back at practice with the boys."

Changing of the line

Cooper juggled his lines Tuesday after dropping C Vladislav Namestnikov to the third line and promoting LW Chris Kunitz to the top line. The move was aimed at continuing what Namestnikov started Sunday when he centered the line with wings Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn and recorded two assists.

Kunitz played alongside RW Nikita Kucherov and C Steven Stamkos in the win over the Hurricanes.

"It was not so much Kunitz playing on that line, it was how well Vlady played playing center with Gourde and Killer," Cooper said. "You can make an argument he was our best player that night, and we weren’t seeing that out of him the last couple of games. Things open up for some guys, and Namestnikov is one of them. He’s having a heck of a year, and to get him going and some of our other guys, that’s what we’re trying to do, and so far, so good the other night."

Namestnikov entered Tuesday with an eight-game goalless drought. He did have five assists, including the two Sunday when he dropped from the top to the third line.

"You look back at our first 41 games, we had some pretty good success, and as coaches you nitpick everything, but in the end, the guys have been pretty good," Cooper said. "But part of this game is finding what works, what can work, what may not work and ultimately you got to keep guys on their toes a little bit, here. If things are potentially getting a little stale and before it reaches that point, we need to open things up for a few guys."

Quote of the day

"The one thing I’m certain, we won’t have the least amount of guys on the team, so that will be good."

Cooper when asked Tuesday on how many Lightning he thinks should make the All-Star Game.

Slap shots

D Slater Koekkoek and C Cory Conacher were the healthy scratches. … Tuesday was the first of only three home games this month for the Lightning.

 
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