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Depth at forward means Tampa Bay Lightning has a rotation situation

BOSTON — One consequence of having 14 forwards on the roster is, as Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, "sometimes we'll have good players come out of the lineup."

That happened Saturday against the Bruins, when Blair Jones, who played well in Friday's victory over Carolina, was scratched in favor of Tom Pyatt.

"He did nothing wrong," Boucher said of Jones. "I have to have a rotation here. We don't want to have good players not playing for a long time. Pyatt deserves a game, (Mattias) Ritola eventually, too."

Tampa Bay's roster swelled to 14 forwards when it kept junior-eligible Brett Connolly. With 12 forwards dressing for games, two need to be scratched.

The result: a juggling act for Boucher, especially as the team contemplates whether to send Connolly back to juniors. The right wing can play up to nine games before the clock starts on his three-year, $2.7 million contract.

The upside?

"It's how we're going to get better," Boucher said. "With so much competition, they're going to want to keep their spots."

The downside?

"We're going to have guys who don't deserve to be taken out."

SHIELDED: Jones said he is considering keeping the face shield he wore Friday after a stick blade to his left eyelid opened a seven-stitch cut. "My mother is all over me," he said.

Jones always has played without a shield when called up from the minors, where it is required.

But "maybe someone is trying to tell me something," he said, pointing to between his eyes where an inadvertent stick blade from teammate Mattias Ohlund opened a cut in camp.

LESSONS LEARNED: Connolly, 19, said he learned Friday in his first NHL regular-season game how important positioning is in the defensive zone.

"Stuff happens so fast," he said. "I thought I fit in. It will get better as the games go on."

Boucher is willing to be patient.

"He gets a little bit more leeway than the other guys when he makes mistakes," he said. "To expect a junior kid to come in and learn all that in a couple of weeks would be unrealistic."

TICKET PUSH: The team has sold 11,000 full season tickets, CEO Tod Leiweke said, more than double last season's 5,000. Including partial plans, the total is about 12,000.

"A good boost," Leiweke said.

Still, he said, "We'd actually like that number to be a little higher. Our objective is to sell out every game. We clearly need a couple thousand more."

BENCHED: For the second straight game D Matt Gilroy sat for significant chunks of time and had just 10:31 of ice time.

Boucher said Gilroy, signed as a free agent, is struggling to grasp Tampa Bay's system:

"He's got to figure out how we play, the details, plus he played (Friday) night, too. That's a lot of things that pile on and make it more difficult for him."

ODDS AND ENDS: RW Teddy Purcell played just 11:43 due to illness, Boucher said. … Tampa Bay won just 2 of 11 power-play faceoffs. … The Lightning, including playoffs, is 5-26-3 with six ties in Boston. … D Bruno Gervais also was scratched.

Depth at forward means Tampa Bay Lightning has a rotation situation 10/08/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 9, 2011 12:11am]
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