Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Banged-up Kucherov sits out Lightning regular-season finale

MONTREAL — RW Nikita Kucherov was added to the list of the Lightning's walking wounded before Saturday's regular-season finale against the Canadiens.

Kucherov didn't play in the game for what the team dubbed "body maintenance," but he has been seen limping around and missed two games with a lower-body injury in late March after blocking a shot. Keep in mind that C Steven Stamkos missed a practice two weeks ago for what the team called "body maintenance" and a day later was declared out 1-3 months due to a blood clot.

Coach Jon Cooper said he wasn't concerned about Kucherov for Game 1 of the playoffs against the Red Wings, who Saturday clinched third place in the Atlantic Division, on Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

"There are guys that are banged up," Cooper said. "We don't play until Wednesday. … If you can get guys a little bit more rest, especially this time of year, to heal some wounds, then so be it. 'Kuch' is one of those guys."

D Victor Hedman, who missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury, skated again and said he felt well enough to play. But he and the team decided he should sit to make sure he would be 100 percent for the playoffs. "You don't to risk too much before the playoffs start," Hedman said.

RW Ryan Callahan (lower body) missed his third straight game and wasn't part of the morning skate. Though former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk indicated on a WDAE-AM 620 on Friday that Callahan's condition may involve offseason surgery, Cooper said, "Whoever is talking hasn't talked to me."

Cooper reiterated the hope is for Callahan to be ready for Game 1. "I haven't been told otherwise," he said.

Playoff schedule: The full schedule for the series with Detroit will be released today.

DROUIN IT: RW Jonathan Drouin couldn't have drawn up his return to the Lightning any better. He scored the winning goal in his first game Thursday against the Devils, then came home to Montreal for Saturday's finale. "It was a nice scenario," he said. "It's definitely cool." After getting all the emotions — and hoopla — out of the way Thursday, Drouin felt more comfortable Saturday. Cooper sensed a more engaged, louder Drouin on the bench Thursday. "You can see he's getting more confidence in himself," Cooper said. "And when you get a confident player, especially of his talent level, it can be pretty fun to watch."

LINING UP: With Kucherov out, the lines got shuffled, with RW Jonathan Marchessault returning to the lineup and taking Kucherov's spot with C Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat before Johnson left the game injured in the first period. Drouin started with LW Alex Killorn and RW Valtteri Filppula. C Vladislav Namestnikov was moved down to the third line with Cedric Paquette and J.T. Brown. … G Andrei Vasilevskiy started. … G Ben Bishop (@benbishop30) is hosting a Twitter Q&A at 2 p.m. today. Use #AskBish.

Comments
Andrei Vasilevskiy returns to MVP form for Lightning

Andrei Vasilevskiy returns to MVP form for Lightning

Nobody in the Lightning dressing room was worried about goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.Sure, Vasilevskiy had allowed 23 goals in his last five starts, with just one win. It was his first tough stretch in his first full season as No. 1, even though it ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blackhawks

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blackhawks

CHICAGO — Turns out, Andrei Vasilevskiy is all right.And, believe it or not, so is the Lightning’s penalty kill, which was the unlikely hero in Monday’s streak-snapping 2-0 win over the Blackhawks at the United Center.Vasilevskiy, 23, played like the...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning angered by slash that has Ondrej Palat out 6-8 weeks

Lightning angered by slash that has Ondrej Palat out 6-8 weeks

CHICAGO — The Lightning got more bad news Monday with wing Ondrej Palat out 6-8 weeks with a lower-body injury. It’s a big blow to a struggling Tampa Bay team, which is now without its top defense­man (Victor Hedman) and now arguably its best defensi...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blackhawks

Matt Peca and Michael Bournival likely won’t be the last callups by the Lightning the next month or so. There are plenty of other deserving candidates at AHL Syracuse, with Adam Erne likely getting a shot had he not been injured. With Ondrej Palat ou...
Updated: 11 hours ago

NHL All-Star Game Skills Competition gets some changes

Skills Competition gets a new lookThe NHL switched up its format for Saturday’s All-Star Game Skills Competition (7 p.m, NBSCN). There will be six events, including the traditional hardest shot, accuracy shooting, plus a passing challenge, puck contr...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning’s Ondrej Palat to be out six to eight weeks

Lightning’s Ondrej Palat to be out six to eight weeks

The Lightning will be without Ondrej Palat six to eight weeks. And  Tampa Bay is still ticked by how Palat got hurt.The Wild's Jared Spurgeon slashed/speared the back of the Lightning wing's right ankle on a power play Saturday."It's a huge loss...
Published: 01/22/18
Matt Peca, Michael Bournival hope to spark Lightning

Matt Peca, Michael Bournival hope to spark Lightning

When Matt Peca had his best training camp with the Lightning back in September, coach Jon Cooper said he learned the 5-foot-9 forward was someone the Lightning would be able to count on at some point this season.Turns out, that time is now.Peca, 27, ...
Published: 01/22/18
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Published: 01/21/18
Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best coverageThe best football broadcast I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XLIII. That was NBC’s coverage of the Steelers’ last-minute victory over th...
Published: 01/21/18
Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Golden Knights are giving Vegas a great odds-beating story in their first year.The expansion team has the whole league playing catchup.James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored to help Vegas beat the Hurricanes 5-1 on Sunday and...
Published: 01/21/18