TAMPA — Coach Barry Melrose said Thursday the Lightning will likely call up a player from its AHL affiliate Norfolk regardless of whether newly acquired D Lukas Krajicek arrives today.
Krajicek, a Czech who was traded to the Lightning in a four-player deal Monday that sent D Shane O'Brien to Vancouver, remained a no-show while he irons out a work visa issue in Canada.
With D Paul Ranger scratched from Saturday's home opener against the Hurricanes, the Lightning is down to five defensemen. Melrose said a player would likely be brought in no matter what as a precaution.
"I talked to Brian (Lawton, vice president of hockey operations, on Thursday) and we're hoping to have him here (today)," Melrose said of Krajicek. "That's all we know now. That's the best we can do is hope he's here (today). If he is, then we'll evaluate if he's ready to play."
1-900-GOALIE: Gs Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig have made it tough on Melrose to pick a No. 1 starter, so much so he might seek out a clairvoyant.
Smith turned away 39 of 41 shots in a 2-1 season-opening loss to the Rangers. Kolzig made 37 of 39 saves in a 2-1 loss in Game 2 on Sunday.
"I'm going to call one of those help lines," Melrose said. "I've got to find Miss Cleo."
Asked Wednesday about a starter for Saturday's game, Melrose said he had made a choice but wouldn't make it public because it wasn't fair to the goalies.
Melrose said Smith is a solid goaltender with good puck-handling skills and Kolzig is a solid veteran.
"They're playing so good, they're screwing me up," Melrose said. "But that's great. That's the strength of our team."
F Marty St. Louis said that having a pair of solid goaltenders helps the Lightning psychologically.
"It's nice to know somebody's going to give you a chance to win," he said. "They've done that more this preseason and the first couple of games."
espn replaces melrose: ESPN hired former Lightning F Matthew Barnaby to replace Melrose as its NHL studio analyst. His first performance was Wednesday. Melrose caught it on a replay Thursday morning and was asked what advice he had for the new kid.
"Get a heavy coat for January, February and March," Melrose said. "Oil your (golf) clubs in January, February and March, because you're not going to need them. And get friendly with the people at Outback (Steakhouse), because you'll be living there most nights."
What did he think of his replacement?
"Obviously, he's not as sharp as the last guy to do it," Melrose said, a comment that was followed by several laughs from the media. "Matthew will do great. He has a great personality and loves the game."
Odds and ends: F Ryan Craig did not practice and is day to day with a groin injury. … F Jussi Jokinen returned to practice after missing Wednesday for personal reasons. … Approximately 2,000 tickets were still available for Saturday's game at the close of business Thursday.
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 580-5315.