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Groin strain might keep Dominic Moore out of Tampa Bay Lightning's opener

TAMPA — One day it appears Dominic Moore will be ready for Saturday's season opener, the next, maybe not.

The center, out since Sept. 21 with a left groin strain, was held out of Thursday's practice by coach Guy Boucher.

Moore skated on his own, but Boucher said he still could miss the game with the Thrashers.

"I'm the one that doesn't want him to skate," Boucher said. "The therapist wants him out there, and they're probably right. But he's one of those guys who is going to suck it up. I don't want him to suck it up right now."

What Boucher wants is Moore to be healthy, and he said he is "100 percent sure" Moore will be ready Wednesday at Montreal.

"So, instead of trying so much for (Saturday) and missing five (games) after that, we might just miss one now and get him to play the other games," Boucher said.

Moore said Boucher is "smart to think of the big picture."

"If it was the playoffs, he's playing," Boucher said. "It's just right now. Is it worth it? We'll see."

FIRST IMPRESSION: LW Mattias Ritola, acquired Tuesday off waivers from Detroit, practiced and was noticed.

"He has tremendous skill," Boucher said. "He's a thick individual, so he's hard to get off the puck."

Even so, Boucher said Ritola likely will not play against Atlanta because he does not know Tampa Bay's system: "It wouldn't be fair to throw him out there having no clue what's going on. It's not fair to him. It's not fair to the team."

Ritola, after three years in the Red Wings' minor-league system, is glad for the chance to be in the NHL, though he knows he must improve his offensive production. He also is glad to again be with GM Steve Yzerman, a former Detroit executive. "I've been in Detroit three years and kind of got stuck there," Ritola said and added, "It's comfortable for me to know Yzerman is here."

WINGIN' IT: It appears Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone will start the season playing opposite their traditional positions.

St. Louis, usually a right wing, will play the left side on a line with C Steven Stamkos and RW Steve Downie. Malone, usually a left wing, will play the right on a line with C Vinny Lecavalier and LW Simon Gagne.

St. Louis played last season on the same line. It's newer for Malone, though he said the adjustment will be minimal.

"With this system, it's the first guy back, and everybody falls into position after that," Malone said, "so you're all over the place and it doesn't really matter."

Except on faceoffs, forwards in Boucher's system are not held to traditional positions, which is why he calls them F1, F2 and F3 instead of centers and wings.

"We want guys to be versatile and be able to play all positions," Boucher said. "I say it to the players all the time … focus on being first on the puck and we'll have a pretty good game."

ODDS AND ENDS: If Moore and Ritola are out, odds increase that Dana Tyrell, with family in the stands, will play his first regular-season NHL game. … C Nate Thompson left practice early. The team called it "preventative." Thompson said he is fine.

Groin strain might keep Dominic Moore out of Tampa Bay Lightning's opener 10/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 9:01am]

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