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Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne misses 16th straight game

TAMPA — Simon Gagne on Wednesday missed his 16th straight game with a strained neck despite coach Guy Boucher's indication Monday the left wing was "very probable" to play.

Boucher did not mention a setback in Gagne's recovery but said he needs more practice time.

"There's timing involved here," Boucher said. "If he could have had three, four practices with the team, he would have been a lot closer."

Boucher said it is "more realistic" Gagne will play Friday at Washington. The problem with that timetable is the team is not scheduled to practice today, and given a game Saturday against the Panthers, it will not practice again until Monday.

Unless Boucher is counting morning skates, Gagne will have to travel with the team next week to Toronto and Boston to get in the requisite three or four practices in a timely fashion.

GM Steve Yzerman didn't deny that could be the case. "We're being cautious," he said. "We don't want him coming back unprepared and be out again. Let's take a few more days and practice hard, and when he gets back, there's no hesitation, no managing ice time or anything like that."

SCAR TISSUE: C Vinny Lecavalier said he wasn't expecting to see a 3-inch wound on his right hand after surgery to repair the big knuckle on his index finger.

"The other operations I got, there were little holes, so this was like, whoo, a shock," Lecavalier said. "It'll leave a nice scar."

Lecavalier's hand is swollen, and he can flex the index finger only 90 degrees at the middle knuckle. He said he is skating every day and has off-ice conditioning, and expects to be playing in about three weeks.

"The only thing I can do is be in shape so when I do come back, I'm ready to go and ready to help the team," he said.

OLD FRIEND: When Ruslan Fedotenko played for the Lightning, his relationship with coach John Tortorella sometimes was tense. So it is interesting the left wing, who scored both Tampa Bay goals in a 2-1 victory over the Flames in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final, joined him with the Rangers.

"No problems so far," Fedotenko said, laughing. "I've been playing pretty good and fitting in with the group and contributing to the team. I'm pretty happy right now."

The Rangers are, too. Fedotenko has four goals and 11 points and is plus-6 in 23 games.

STEPS FORWARD: RW Teddy Purcell's game has taken a step up with two goals and six points in four games.

"He's got all the skill in the world," Boucher said. "His game has been upgraded, his grit, too. He's certainly been an asset."

Purcell, who is third on the team with 15 points (four goals), said the transformation began with a recent meeting with Boucher. "I guess he kind of challenged me a little bit."

But Purcell, on a line with C Dominic Moore and Ryan Malone, helped himself by "just moving my feet. … Get to an area and try not to survey too much. Keep my feet moving and make plays."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning dominated faceoffs, winning 61 percent. Moore won 12-of-17. … F Mattias Ritola played after a two-game league suspension for a from-behind hit and Monday's scratch. … D Mathieu Roy was scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Simon Gagne misses 16th straight game 11/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 11:23pm]

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