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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman skates for first time since concussion, still questionable for Thursday's game

BRANDON — Victor Hedman practiced Monday at the Ice Sports Forum and was to see a doctor to determine if his brain activity is normal.

The Lightning defenseman had not skated since sustaining a mild concussion Thursday from a ferocious check from Ottawa's Chris Neil. But even if all signs are good, coach Rick Tocchet said, Hedman may not play Thursday against the Wild.

"I'd take the safer side if he felt pretty good," Tocchet said. "To me, he would have to feel real good. I don't know if pretty good will get him in the lineup, especially at this stage of his career and this stage of the season. If it was April, playoff game, pretty good might be enough."

Hedman, 18, second on the team with an average 24 minutes of ice time, had his brain function checked against readings taken during camp. Another benchmark: how he reacts to practicing and raising his heart rate for the first time since the injury.

"More tired than usual, sleeping a little longer, otherwise nothing," Hedman said when asked about residual effects. "We'll see if there are any complications. If I feel anything from the practice, we'll see how it goes."

Tanguay rising: With three goals and seven points in his past six games, W Alex Tanguay is playing his best of the season. He said he is finally adapting to his new team. More important, he is moving his feet.

"When I move my feet, it opens everything up," he said. "You're first to the puck and get to play with the puck a little more."

It also gets you involved on defense, Tocchet said: "He's been coming down low getting the puck, starting our breakouts. That's why he's getting chances."

Quite a difference from Tanguay's first nine games in which he had two assists and just seven shots on goal.

"It's a long season, and there are going to be ups and downs," Tanguay said. "Hopefully, the downs are through now."

Playoff fever: It is way too early to keep close track, but Tampa Bay, seventh in the East, would be in the playoffs if they began today. Why is that notable with 67 games left in the season?

"It's so much easier to play from a position where you can control your destiny," Tanguay said. "That's what you want."

"You're feeling good about yourself," Tocchet said. " 'I'm part of a team that has a shot.' "

Ranger, coach talk: Tocchet and D Paul Ranger spoke on the phone Sunday and had what the coach called a "positive conversation." Tocchet would not speculate on when or whether Ranger would return to the team and gave no information on why he was given a leave of absence.

Struggling Meszaros: Normally, Andrej Meszaros said, negative stats don't get under his skin, but minus-6 "obviously bothers me."

"I want to play better than I am right now," said the defense-man, who with two goals and three points is struggling offensively.

Meszaros said he wants to shoot more and, defensively, "tighten the gap" between him and opponents.

"Just try to be more consistent," he said. "Some games I'm good, some games I'm not."

Tocchet said Meszaros played better Saturday at Montreal, with two hits: "He was feistier. He made a couple of open-ice hits. You can't always been looking for contact, but you have to be able to engage."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman skates for first time since concussion, still questionable for Thursday's game 11/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 9, 2009 6:42pm]
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