NEWARK, N.J. — A "change of scenery."
That is how Lightning coach Rick Tocchet described an interesting personnel move Friday night against the Devils as he put captain Vinny Lecavalier on left wing for a couple of shifts with C Paul Szczechura and Steve Downie.
"Just kind of give him a couple of shifts there and get him back to center," Tocchet said.
Lecavalier even had a shift with C Zenon Konopka and Stephane Veilleux.
"We kind of talked about it," Tocchet said. "He said, 'Yeah, whatever.' Maybe loosen him up, I don't know. You just get a feeling to put him on the wing for a second."
It was an interesting idea in the ongoing quest to get Lecavalier going. And while it was tough to gauge the effect or if Lecavalier was on board with the experiment — he said "I don't know" when asked about the thinking — he scored his sixth goal of the season on a wraparound 1:26 into the second period for a 1-0 lead and had a good presence in the offensive zone.
The goal was just the kind of "dirty" one Lecavalier and Tocchet say could give Lecavalier a boost.
"Yeah," he said. "I guess it was a little bit lucky. I'll definitely take it. You go up 1-0 against New Jersey, it's important to get the lead on them. Hopefully, I'll build from that."
SZCZECHURA HURT: Szczechura left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. No further information was available.
JONES REAPPEARS: C Blair Jones hadn't been with the team since December 2007, so it was easy to understand his excitement and determination after being called up from AHL Norfolk.
"You have to play like you want to be here," he said. "And you have to show them you belong here every game and not think, 'Well, I'm here to fill a roster spot for a few games and then I'll be going back down.' I'm here to stay here. I'm happy to be back up and don't want to go back down."
Jones, 23, had six goals and 19 points in 25 games for the Admirals. He said his game is "night and day" from when he was last with the big club. He stressed defensive zone coverages.
"I've been working hard," said Jones, who played 13:27 with three hits against New Jersey. "I'm just happy to be back here. It's a pretty good feeling."
SCRATCHES: The Lightning, at the 23-player limit, scratched D Kurtis Foster, D Matt Smaby and LW Todd Fedoruk, who sat for the seventh straight game.
"Fridge has to play with an edge and he hasn't," Tocchet said. "We talked about it. He understands now he has to wait his turn to get in."
Smaby was out after playing his first game this season Wednesday against the Bruins. Tocchet indicated he wanted more speed in the lineup.
ODDS AND ENDS: Lightning wives and girlfriends will host a toy drive to benefit Toys for Tots before games tonight and Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum. New and unwrapped toys will be accepted on the plaza. … LW James Wright had his first NHL fight, and took a few good shots, with 5:58 left in the first against Matthew Corrente.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]