Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning soon to face dilemma over glut of healthy defensemen

Defenseman Bruno Gervais has played 20 straight games after being a scratch for most of the season’s first half.


Defenseman Bruno Gervais has played 20 straight games after being a scratch for most of the season’s first half.

TAMPA — When defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron returns from a back injury — and that is simply a matter of conditioning, coach Guy Boucher said — the Lightning will have a glut on the blue line that is a problem and an opportunity.

The problem: With Bruno Gervais and Brendan Mikkelson gaining confidence and playing time, Boucher, who likes to play seven defensemen, will have difficult decisions because he will have eight available.

The opportunity: GM Steve Yzerman will have organizational depth to manage, never a bad thing with the Feb. 27 trade deadline three weeks away.

It is interesting Gervais and Mikkelson are forcing the issue.

Gervais, 27, was a healthy scratch most of the season's first half but has played in 20 straight games. Averaging 13:29 of ice time, he has played more in six of his past eight games, has three goals and eight points for the season and is plus-1. Mikkel­son, 24, acquired Jan. 6 from the Flames for center Blair Jones, has zero points but is plus-3 and averaging 13:46 of ice time.

"Gervais is a smart guy. Mikkel­son is mobile and can move," Boucher said. "They're both heads-up. I'd say both are down-to-earth guys who actually are very calm about things, so they're calm about their tandem and what they need to do."

Bergeron, out nine games, has to perhaps stay out of the weight room, where he said his injury originated and where he was hurt last season. Then he vowed to be more careful.

"But it wasn't even heavy (weight)," he said of his recent workout. "It's unfortunate. I should have known better. But at the same time, you always do things with the right intentions, and sometimes the results are unfortunate."

RETURN: Rookie wing Brett Connolly was in the lineup for Saturday's 6-3 win over the Panthers after he was a healthy scratch Thursday against the Jets. Connolly played 7:10 without a shot. But he blocked a shot and on the same shift thwarted a scoring chance with a backcheck; that's notable because Boucher said Connolly's problems have been defensive.

Boucher compared Connolly's struggles with those of teammate Steven Stamkos and Boston's Tyler Seguin, both of whom were high first-round draft choices — Stamkos was No. 1 overall in 2008, Seguin No. 2 in 2010 — and flourished after being benched as rookies.

Connolly, 2010's No. 6 overall pick, said he skated with Seguin "a few times this summer."

"He was a guy who … struggled to play defense. I'm looking at the same thing this year," Connolly said. "I just can't be a one-way player. … If that means I have to play on the fourth line and not play as much and focus on the D zone, that's that. "

SILENCE: After Marty St. Louis did not speak to reporters pregame about his 900th NHL game Saturday and then had a hat trick, Stamkos said his teammate might be on to something: "You saw the results. Marty is a pretty superstitious guy. He knows his routines, what he likes to talk about, what he doesn't, so to each his own."

SCHEDULE: Tampa Bay, on a 6-0-1 run, finishes a four-game homestand Tuesday against the Kings before a trip to the Rangers, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay Lightning soon to face dilemma over glut of healthy defensemen 02/05/12 [Last modified: Sunday, February 5, 2012 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.

  3. Rays journal: Rookie Jacob Faria continues to show veteran poise

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles threatened in the first inning and the second. They loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning with the top of the order up and seemed poised for a big inning. But those opportunities produced only one run because Rays rookie RHP Jacob Faria kept his composure and got the …

    Jacob Faria goes a career-high 71/3 innings, staying composed when the Orioles threaten.
  4. Rays vs. Orioles, 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field


    Today: vs. Orioles

    12:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

    Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field box office,, surcharge of up to $5 within 5 hours of game time.

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead U.S. soccer


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

    Among some other unmentionables.

    Bruce Arena