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. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.