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No ill effects for Lightning's Ranger in first game back

Defenseman Paul Ranger, helping goalie Olaf Kolzig clear the puck against the Islanders on Thursday, had 23:46 of ice time.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Defenseman Paul Ranger, helping goalie Olaf Kolzig clear the puck against the Islanders on Thursday, had 23:46 of ice time.

TAMPA — D Paul Ranger said he had no ill effects from Thursday's game against the Islanders, his first since arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in April to repair a torn labrum.

Ranger was impressive and steady in 23:46 of ice time.

"I made a couple of mistakes reading rushes, but for the most part, I felt confident," he said Friday. "I felt like I had my game. It's going to be better from here. I'm excited about it."

Coach Barry Melrose couldn't say enough about Ranger's effect on the team's blue line.

"The other guys fed off him," Melrose said. "Instead of throwing (the puck) around the wall, he was passing it up the middle and skating it out. All of a sudden (Lukas) Krajicek is doing it, and Matty Carle starts doing it, and (Janne) Niskala starts doing it. Good play is contagious, and Paul gave us that spark."

GOAL ETIQUETTE: Some of Tampa Bay's star forwards were front and center against New York. Vinny Lecavalier got his second goal and Vinny Prospal and Ryan Malone their first.

Melrose said it wasn't so much who scored but how they scored.

"We went to the net," he said. "Skill guys do not want to play that way, but if you're a skill guy and play that way, you'll never be in a goal-scoring slump."

Melrose called the perimeter game Tampa Bay had played "a dangerous kind of hockey that's going to catch up with you."

HE'S GOT MOVES: Prospal, who celebrates practice goals, had a unique fist- and foot-pumping episode on his back after he was knocked to the ice while scoring against the Islanders. "I don't care if he spikes the puck over the glass," Melrose said. "It's nice to see a guy get rewarded for the effort he put in."

FRIENDLY ENEMIES: Assistant Wes Walz said it will be "weird" tonight coaching against the Wild, for which he played the past seven seasons.

"I know a lot of those guys in that dressing room, and the coaching staff there had a huge impact on my career," he said. "It's going to be weird to look over at the other bench."

As for how he is adapting to coaching, Walz said, "I can tell you one thing, I never, ever thought this much about the game when I played. I think about the game constantly now, whereas as a player, I was always focused on my three or four hours in the building.

"Being a coach, I've had a little bit more difficult time shutting my mind off and thinking about other things."

LINE CHANGES: Prospal was back on Lecavalier's line at practice, and Malone was back on Steven Stamkos'. RW Radim Vrbata, with zero points while playing with Stamkos, was dropped to Chris Gratton's line. Adam Hall moved from Gratton's line to Stamkos'.

ODDS AND ENDS: D Andrej Meszaros, who took a shot off his lower body against New York, did not practice but was expected to play tonight. … D Marek Malik has not signed a contract, the team said. But Melrose said he looks good enough that he could use him tonight. … The Islanders' 36 shots were the fewest allowed by Tampa Bay, which has allowed 162 in four games.

No ill effects for Lightning's Ranger in first game back 10/17/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2008 11:06pm]
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