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Defenseman Mike Lundin thrilled for latest chance with Tampa Bay Lightning

ATLANTA — To be honest, Mike Lundin said, he did not believe he would again play for the Lightning.

So when the defenseman was called up Saturday from AHL Norfolk, it was "definitely a shock." And playing Sunday against the Thrashers was "obviously a thrill."

It's been quite a journey for Lundin, 25, who as a rookie in 2007-08 played 81 games for Tampa Bay but spent most of last season with the Admirals and this season was cut out of camp.

But down to six healthy blue-liners, the Lightning needed depth, and with two goals, 11 points and plus-3 in 20 games for Norfolk, Lundin earned a shot.

"It's hardest right at first," he said of being demoted. "It's kind of a pride thing. I was getting more comfortable up here and thinking I'd have a longer career, and all of a sudden is the shock of being down there. That was the toughest part.

"But once you're down there playing hockey with the guys, it's the same thing."

Lundin used the time well, gaining confidence and being more aggressive on the ice.

"I got in the habit when I was up here of trying not to make mistakes. When you play like that, you're not going to do a whole lot of good," he said, and added, "Two years ago I didn't hit many guys. There isn't a lot of room for those guys in the NHL."

Coach Rick Tocchet said he doesn't expect the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Lundin to put opponents through the glass.

"We're looking more for the aggressiveness of stripping pucks, getting on the right side of the pile, boxing out, don't let somebody outmuscle you in front of the net," Tocchet said.

"You look at the Danny Boyles the (Kimmo) Timonens for Philly. They're not big defensemen, they're not overly bone-crunchers, but they're somehow always bothering you. They're anticipating. They get pucks away from you."

Lundin did that in the first period when he bothered Ilya Kovalchuk enough on a semibreakaway to disrupt his shot.

"I just kept working on things and kept going and played every game hard," Lundin said. "So far it's working out. Hopefully it keeps going that way."

INJURY PRONE: D Matt Smaby, buried on the depth chart and yet to play an NHL game this season, twice has been sent to Norfolk on conditioning assignments. Both times he was hurt. The latest: a finger cut on his left hand Smaby said did not occur in a game. He declined to elaborate.

"I'm into new territory," he said of his frustration level. "Other years have been tough, but this is something completely different as far as toughness."

He said he expects to skate today and perhaps be ready to play in a few days.

PLAYER APPEARaNCES: Marty St. Louis and James Wright will sign autographs from 6-7:30 tonight at Champs Sports at the Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Zenon Konopka's assist on Stephane Veilleux's goal was his first point in 22 games dating to April 9. … C Steven Stamkos played his 100th NHL game. ... D Mattias Ohlund (ankle) and LW Todd Fedoruk were scratched.

Around the league: Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall is out for at least a month with a sprained left knee ligament sustained in a leg-on-leg, open-ice collision with Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque on Saturday. Laraque was called for tripping. He has a hearing with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell today, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Defenseman Mike Lundin thrilled for latest chance with Tampa Bay Lightning 11/22/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 22, 2009 10:43pm]
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