Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Injured Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier returns to practice with team

TAMPA — The shot, such as it was, came with a full backswing but a soft follow-through that sent the puck cautiously toward the net.

Still, Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier, in his first practice with the team since last month's knuckle surgery and wearing a red jersey at the St. Pete Times Forum to distinguish he was not ready for contact, was satisfied with the result.

"It's still pretty stiff," he said Tuesday while inspecting the 3-inch red scar across the back of his right hand. "But considering, it felt really good. My stickhandling every day is getting better, shooting is getting better. For the first practice, I'm really happy."

When Lecavalier will play is a little more iffy. He was to have an X-ray Tuesday, but even if that showed the big knuckle at the base of his right index finger is healed, head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said Lecavalier also will have to be tested for strength and range of motion.

In other words, Lecavalier is more likely out of tonight's game with the Thrashers at the Times Forum, but it sounds as if he will be ready next week at the latest.

It can't come too soon for coach Guy Boucher, who desperately wants another offensive weapon to take some pressure off Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Because of injuries to Lecavalier, left wing Simon Gagne and right wing Steve Downie, who is still out with a high ankle sprain, Tampa Bay has not had two offensive lines intact since Oct. 21.

Boucher also wants to build a second power-play unit around Lecavalier, Gagne and Downie.

"We've been doing well without (Lecavalier), and that says a lot for our depth," right wing Teddy Purcell said. "But when you get a go-to guy back, it's a morale boost. It's going to be exciting five-on-five and on the power play."

Lecavalier, 30, has missed 15 games and hasn't played since Nov. 11 at Washington, where he "slashed at a puck" and the twisting of his hand cracked the knuckle first hurt Oct. 16 by a shot by Florida's Bryan McCabe. Lecavalier was expected to be out four to six weeks, so he is at the cusp of that timetable.

He is so eager to return, he said he even enjoyed sitting in on a pre-practice meeting.

"You're part of the team, but you feel kind of away," Lecavalier said of being injured. "You don't go on the road with them; the time we go on the ice is different. It's hard to really feel part of it. It's not fun."

Fun was being on the ice with his teammates and getting time with the second power-play unit. "He looked great," Boucher said.

Except his shot, which Lecavalier admitted holding back. "I want to test it, but I don't want to be stupid with it, either," he said. "I don't want to take 20 one-timers in a row. … We'll see how it feels (today)."

And they decide if he can play.

"I'll have to go back to church," Boucher said, "and light up a few candles."

NOTES: Forward Mattias Ritola (Meniere's disease) practiced and apparently is good to go against the Thrashers. … Mike Smith gets his first start in net since the Dec. 2 debacle in Boston in which he allowed five goals on 22 shots in an 8-1 loss.

Injured Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier returns to practice with team 12/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 2:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …