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Tampa Bay Lightning keeps juggling 14 forwards

TAMPA — It sounds as if Lightning coach Guy Boucher will have to juggle 14 forwards for the foreseeable future.

The decision to keep rookie RW Brett Connolly rather than send him to juniors perpetuated the glut, and GM Steve Yzerman said Saturday he has no immediate plans to try to get anyone through waivers to AHL Norfolk.

That might change when D Mattias Ohlund, out after knee surgery, is ready to return. Taking him off injured reserve would push the team over the 23-player roster limit. For now, though, Yzerman said, "there is no rush to do anything."

The problem with having 14 forwards is obvious. With Boucher scratching two in each game, playing time is limited for some. LW Ryan Shannon played Saturday in the 1-0 win over the Jets for the first time in five games. RW Mattias Ritola was out for a fifth straight game.

"If you've got more depth, that's supposedly a good problem to have, but there still is the word 'problem' in there," Boucher said. "It's tough to take out some guys right now. That's why when you have a chance, don't lose it."

LW Tom Pyatt took advantage. After being scratched in three of four games, he has played five straight.

"You can't be afraid to make a mistake," Shannon said.

Certainly, Boucher would like the ranks to be thinned. He prefers 11 forwards and seven defensemen on his bench in games instead of the 12/6 combination he almost has been forced to use.

"There's a bigger picture," he said. "The reality is we have players who deserve to be in the NHL and we have to cope with that, and we haven't had any injuries. They can come quick, and we'll be happy to have those guys."

SKATING: Ohlund took a small step — or slide, as the case may be — by briefly skating for the first time since Oct. 11 arthroscopic surgeries on both knees to clean out "loose bodies." "Very, very basic," head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said. Ohlund, who might be out up to two months, said he is improving "but never fast enough."

FIGHTING CANCER: About 2,000 individuals affected by cancer — patients, survivors, family members and care-givers — attended the game courtesy of Tampa attorney Steve Yerrid.

Lightning G Dwayne Roloson used a pink stick for the occasion. Assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who has brain cancer and is home in Calgary, was honored on the scoreboard.

It was the 12th Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Lightning is 12-0 on those nights.

PRAISE FOR THE 'PEG: The relocation of the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg as the Jets' second incarnation has received almost universal praise. "It's a great hockey town," Boucher said. "I've coached against the (AHL) Manitoba Moose … and the rink was full of people, an incredible atmosphere. It's great that it's back, and it's the right thing."

ODDS AND ENDS: C Steven Stamkos has five goals and two assists in a six-game points streak tied for the league's current longest. … Connolly played just two shifts in the third period, and his 10:34 of ice time was a season low. … Tampa Bay has killed 14 straight penalties. … The Lightning has beaten the Jets/Thrashers in seven straight at the Times Forum. … F Blair Jones and D Bruno Gervais also were scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning keeps juggling 14 forwards 10/29/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 30, 2011 12:18am]
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