Here's a new storyline, the Tampa Bay Lightning, which had traded front-line players on three previous game days, actually added a player before tonight's game with the Jets, claiming forward Tim Wallace off waivers from the Islanders. He will join the team on Friday.
The Lightning could use the body up front after Dominic Moore and Steve Downie were traded and captain Vinny Lecavalier is out at least three weeks with a fractured right hand.
"All our reports about him were positive," general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We think he's a guy who can come in and contribute this year. He's a gritty guy. He's a strong and competitive guy. We thought he'd be able to help us down the stretch."
Wallace, 27, has played in 31 games this season for the Islanders with one assist and six penalty minutes. He was minus-7 and averaged 8:40 of ice time. Wallace also played 24 games with AHL Bridgeport with nine goals and 20 points. He can play center or wing.
Wallace is from Anchorage, Alaska, and was a childhood friend of Lightning center Nate Thompson.
"Every time I go back, I always see him; lifelong friends," Thompson said. "I grew up playing hockey with him. I'm happy to have him here. He's a big body. He hits like a truck. He's willing if need be to drop the gloves and he's a pretty good all-around player. He's got some offensive ability."
With Wallace, Tampa Bay will have 13 healthy forwards (that is, if no one is hurt tonight against the Jets). It remains to be seen if either Trevor Smith or Mike Angelidis will be sent back to AHL Norfolk. If right wing Brett Connolly is going to be able to play in the playoffs for Tri-City of the junior Western League, he will have to be sent there by Monday.
No official word but that would seem a long shot. Yzerman likely is much more interested in bolstering Norfolk for its playoff run, and all things being equal, the team would much rather have Connolly in the NHL than juniors; a much better environment for him, the team believes.
Others stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Mathieu Garon gets the start in net for the Lightning. ... Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron also is not on the trip because of his back injury. Sounds like he is going to see another doctor for yet another opinion on the injury that apparently is affecting his sciatic nerve. Bergeron will miss his 17th in the past 18 games. "For me, I hear a different sound to what it is and what it's going to be every day," coach Guy Boucher said. "I've stopped listening to be honest with you. Just tell me when he's ready. That's about it. He's been missing for so long now." Added Boucher: "We've had so many injuries, I put that aside now. I don't wait for players anymore. It just distracts you from what you have right now. ... Tonight's game is a big one for Tampa Bay, which is facing one of the teams it will have to leapfrog to get into the playoffs. Boucher, as usual, tried to downplay it. "I was sitting in my room this morning and I was thinking, 'This is a big game,' " Boucher said. "But when is it not a big game? We've been saying that every game since the beginning of the year. It's a league where every single point matter, every game matters, and to me this game is not more or less important than the last game of the game before or the next one. Our approach has been very narrow-minded in terms of who we play and how we've got to play. We've been really focusing on today with a rock-climbers mentality of not looking up or not looking down. We're looking right in front of us and focusing on the task."