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David Hale gets first ice time for Tampa Bay Lightning, wants to win job

RALEIGH, N.C. — David Hale got his first ice time of the season Tuesday in place of injured D Kurtis Foster. But Hale didn't sound like someone ready to relinquish the position without a fight.

"It's all up to me, how I play," he said before the game. "I have the responsibility of keeping myself in the lineup. If they take me out, then I know I haven't done enough."

"As a coach, you like hearing that from a player," Rick Tocchet said. "I've seen it many times, a guy gets in there and he never loses his spot. If he has that attitude, he's halfway there. If he says, 'I'm waiting for the guy to come back in,' you play back on your heels."

Hale, 28, was acquired in July from the Coyotes in the Radim Vrbata deal. Believed to be more of a throw-in and, even now, perhaps trade bait, the Colorado Springs native raised his status during training camp.

"He didn't lose any job in camp. He did a nice job. It was just the numbers ahead of him," Tocchet said. "He's a steady defenseman. Steady Eddy, I guess."

Hale was paired with Andrej Meszaros against the Hurricanes, and though they played little together in camp, Hale said their games mesh.

"He likes to jump up into the play quite a bit," Hale said. "I'll stay back and be the safety valve, if he needs it."

In 13:25 of ice time, Hale had two hits, two blocked shots and a giveaway.

FOSTER UPDATE: Foster, out with an undisclosed lower-body injury, skated for the first time since being hurt Saturday against the Thrashers, a couple of days ahead of schedule, Tocchet said. Foster said he expects to see a doctor today in Tampa, but also to practice.

Foster's big right-handed shot was key on the power play. Rookie D Victor Hedman took his place.

FANCY PASSING: Know what impresses Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice most about Hedman?

"His passing game more than anything; his ability to pass while he's moving flat on the ice," Maurice said. "Being able to move the puck flat sounds like it should be pretty standard, but it's not easy to do."

"A lot of it has to do with the stick you have, and you have to have the hands to use it," said Tampa Bay associate coach Rick Wilson, who handles the defense. "It's usually a skill that's fairly well along before they get to the NHL, and they have to continually learn to use it at a faster tempo and under pressure."

Hedman, averaging a team-high 25:22 of ice time, says he doesn't even think about it.

"That's a new one on me," he said of Maurice's comment. "I try to pass hard so you don't have to wait for the puck, and you can either tip it or take it and skate with it."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Hurricanes have won eight straight over Tampa Bay. … C Vinny Lecavalier has been atrocious on faceoffs; with a 3-for-12 effort against Carolina he is 9-for-29 for the season (31 percent). … Assistant coach Adam Oates was behind the bench for the first time. Assistant Wes Walz was moved to the press box. … Meszaros played his 300th NHL game. G Mike Smith played his 100th. … Ds Matt Smaby and Lukas Krajicek were scratched.

David Hale gets first ice time for Tampa Bay Lightning, wants to win job 10/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 11:53pm]
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