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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher juggling lineup without injured, sick forwards

PITTSBURGH — Guy Boucher fancies himself a pretty good chess player.

He said he really enjoys "when I'm down, when I lose one of my main pieces and things look like (shaking his hands) aargh."

That might serve the Lightning coach well as he tries to put together a lineup without three main pieces — forwards Vinny Lecavalier (fractured knuckle), Simon Gagne (neck) and Steve Downie (neck) — and with Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Johan Harju, called up Friday from AHL Norfolk.

"There won't be any lines," Boucher said before facing the Penguins. "Right now I'm starting with something, but I don't want to put (Pouliot and Harju) on together the whole game. I know what's going to happen. (The Penguins) are going to wait for us to put our kids out, and (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin are going to come on, so we're going to be a little smarter than that."

In other words, Boucher expected, and expects going forward, his lines to be changeable. And with 11 forwards instead of the usual 12 against Pittsburgh because LW Dana Tyrell was scratched with the flu, there was spot duty for everyone. LW Mattias Ritola got the "first kick at the can" as Lecavalier's replacement on the power play.

"The problem isn't we're missing guys in terms of numbers," Boucher said. "The problem is you're asking guys to play above what they normally can. It's okay for the short term, but after a while what's happening is we're going to have the same guys on the power play and penalty kill. We're going to drain everybody."

Ways to mitigate that: fewer penalties and short shifts. "We can't be out-changed by the opponent," Boucher said. "If your top guys stay one minute on the ice, they're not going to have the juice to play power play and penalty kill and lead the team."

TOP GUYS: Pouliot leads Norfolk with 18 points, and Harju has a team-best seven goals. Losing both is a blow for the Admirals. "That's life in the minors," Norfolk GM Julien BriseBois said. "That's why depth is so important. You have to have enough depth to weather the storm when the storm comes."

NEW HOME: LW Ryan Malone, a Pittsburgh native who grew up in the Penguins' former home, the Civic Arena, called the CONSOL Energy Center "another rink."

"The other place had lots of character," said Malone, whose father, Greg, is the Lightning's head pro scout and had that job for 16 years with the Penguins. "I like that rink better than this one, I guess. But the fans and the city deserve a nice rink like this, so it's good for everybody."

A TREAT: Malone's goal Thursday against the Capitals was his second of the season and first since Oct. 13 at Montreal. "His game has been really good," Boucher said. "I'm surprised he hasn't scored. At some point your game gets better and better, but you need some candy. You can trick or treat all you want, but if no one gives you candy, you're going to stop going to the house."

ODDS AND ENDS: D Pavel Kubina wore an A as an alternate captain. … Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, at 25 years, 349 days, is the seventh-youngest goalie with 150 wins. … Lecavalier did color commentary on the game's radio broadcast during the second period.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher juggling lineup without injured, sick forwards 11/12/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 13, 2010 12:24am]
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