RALEIGH, N.C. — Now we know why the Lightning locker room after Friday's 4-2 victory over the Panthers wasn't filled with the usual blaring celebratory music.
After the game, GM Steve Yzerman informed players that assistant coach Wayne Fleming, out four straight games, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and Thursday had a procedure at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
"It's really hard," D Pavel Kubina said Saturday. "It's just like something happened to one of your family."
Yzerman said Fleming is "up and around" and "feeling really good." And coach Guy Boucher said Fleming sent observations by text message to the coaches between periods of Friday's game.
Depending on how Fleming, 60, reacts to treatment, Yzerman said, he can return to the team any time. In the meantime, assistant coach Dan Lacroix takes over Fleming's penalty kill, and assistant Marty Raymond relocates to behind the bench from the press box, where he was an eye in the sky.
"We're trying to manage through it, but we hope at some point we can see (Fleming) back," Boucher said. "He's got a major battle to fight now, other than hockey, and that's where our heart is."
The news came out of the blue, Yzerman said. Fleming told him before the March 31 game with the Penguins he had not felt well and was having tests done.
Yzerman said more testing will determine treatment.
"It's tough," Boucher said. "You don't think hockey right away. You think friend. We know what's ahead for him is a difficult, difficult battle. We feel for him, and hopefully we do well and that can appease some of his worries."
TROPHY TIME: RW Adam Hall was nominated for the Masterton Trophy, given for perseverance and dedication to hockey.
Hall, 30, had seven goals, 18 points in 82 games. Last season he was banished to AHL Norfolk by then-GM Brian Lawton. Rather than sulk, Hall was a team leader. This season, he is a mainstay on the penalty kill and has won 55 percent of his faceoffs.
"He's a rock," Boucher said.
Said Hall: "You can't help but have an extra appreciation for being able to come back and the hunger that it takes."
Hall was nominated by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The full membership votes for the leaguewide award.
SHUFFLING: Giving D Eric Brewer a look on the power play is part of a larger experiment to understand all options available in the playoffs, Boucher said:
"Lately, I've been trying different things, giving guys different opportunities, knowing what I've got. If guys fall in the playoffs, all of a sudden we're not lost out there. We've got solutions."
Given Tampa Bay's league-worst 16 shorthanded goals allowed, another defenseman at the point might not be bad.
ODDS AND ENDS: Steven Stamkos' 46 assists are a career best and matched his points from 2008-09. … Tampa Bay is 5-11-2 in season finales. … As expected, W Ryan Malone was scratched for body maintenance. D Victor Hedman (lower body), good enough to play, Boucher said, was out as a precaution. D Randy Jones (ankle) was scratched.