DENVER — Veteran LW Gary Roberts said he learned a lot about the Lightning — what it does right, what it does wrong — as he watched four games from the press box while scratched because of an upper-body injury.
RW Evgeny Artyukhin got his chance to study beginning Saturday night in Colorado. Except he wasn't hurt.
Interim coach Rick Tocchet didn't want to assign more blame than deserved to the 25-year-old playing his second NHL season, but he said three key mistakes in a 4-2 loss at Minnesota on Friday prompted the decision.
"We've got to kind of teach him stuff, and I think right now if he watches a game (it will help)," Tocchet said. "I think his head right now, he's thinking too much, and I want him to go up in the stands. I think it helps."
Tocchet said although Artyukhin has played well in spurts, he needs to be more consistent.
"We can't have a roller-coaster with him," Tocchet said.
Roberts agrees with Tocchet that watching the game helps a player.
"When you watch from above, you see things developing," he said. "You see (that) it appears you have a lot more time than you really do, but it's a good teaching tool."
Roberts said one of the main bits he gleaned from watching in a coat and tie was that the Lightning is closer to competing than its record indicates.
HEAD MAN: Avalanche coach Tony Granato said he could see the raw materials of a future head coach in Tocchet when Tocchet served as his assistant.
"He's got that personality. He's got that work ethic. He's got that passion," Granato said. "And he's got the experience in the game of hockey."
UPTICK: Rookie C Steven Stamkos has played himself into Tocchet's favor with his hustle, earning 20 minutes of ice time for the first time against Minnesota.
Tocchet said that Stamkos has "probably been our best (at) jumping on the loose pucks, being the first guy."
This year's No. 1 draft pick blasted a shot that RW Radim Vrbata deflected in for a goal against the Wild, and he had one of the Lightning's few legitimate scoring chances in a five-on-three power play with five minutes left and the Lightning trailing by a goal.
ODDS AND ENDS: RW Marty St. Louis was awarded an assist on LW Ryan Malone's second-period goal in Minnesota because he took the initial shot the led to Malone's tap-in. … D Matt Smaby and RW Jason Ward were reassigned to AHL Norfolk. … Tampa Bay scratched Artyukhin and D Marek Malik (lower body). Colorado scratched C Joe Sakic (back), D Aaron MacKenzie (healthy) and D Kyle Cumiskey (healthy).