OTTAWA — C Vinny Lecavalier said making the Canadian Olympic team for the 2010 Games in Vancouver is "very important to me." That is why Tuesday's game in Toronto, with Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman in the stands, was so crucial.
Lecavalier, who entered that game with one goal and slipping ice time, scored on a rebound, got to the net and played solid defense.
"The good news is they're picking the team Dec. 31," Lecavalier said. "The last game, I think, went great. So I'll try to build off that and get more and more opportunities to get in the flow of the game."
RW Marty St. Louis seems like a lock. C Steven Stamkos, who has 12 goals in 14 games this season, has forced his way into the conversation. But Lecavalier, 29, who played for Canada at the 2006 Olympics, is on the bubble.
The captain has two goals, 12 points and is at minus-7. His spot on the power-play point has, to an extent, limited his scoring chances, but erratic five-on-five play and puck-possession issues were more of a concern.
He seemed to get a boost against the Maple Leafs on a line with LW Ryan Malone and RW Alex Tanguay.
"I was more physical," Lecavalier said. "I really kept it simple. I don't think I did anything extraordinary."
The Lightning doesn't need extraordinary, just consistency. Team Canada likely would find that attractive, too.
"I'm always worried about Tampa, but it's always in the back of your mind you want to be part of this Olympic team," Lecavalier said. "Even though I struggled a little bit in the first month, I really think if I have a good month of November … a good month and a half, hopefully, I can be part of the team."
CRAIG CLEARS, PLAYS: RW Ryan Craig cleared recall waivers and played against the Senators on Thursday on a line with C Zenon Konopka and LW Todd Fedoruk. Cut during training camp, Craig, 27, had seven goals and nine points in 11 games for AHL Norfolk.
"I'm just excited," Craig said before the game. "I'm excited to be back and, hopefully, get a chance to play and go from there."
Craig played 10:10 with a shot, three hits and a fight.
To make room on the 23-player roster, D Paul Ranger, on indefinite leave of absence to deal with a personal issue, was designated a "non-roster player." The move, which needed league approval, provides a roster exemption while allowing Ranger to be paid.
To make room in Thursday's lineup, W Drew Miller, with zero points in 13 games, was scratched.
CLUTCH PERFORMER: With Tuesday's overtime goal, Malone became the eighth NHL player and the first since the Flyers' Brian Propp in 1982-83 with winning goals in four of a team's first five victories.
ODDS AND ENDS: Former Lightning G Karri Ramo was goaltender of the month for October in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. Ramo won seven of 11 games for Avangard Omsk with a 1.92 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .912 save percentage. … D Matt Smaby and D Kurtis Foster also were scratched.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]