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NO LOCKER ROOM PROBLEMS: PROSPAL

F Vinny Prospal on Tuesday brushed aside questions about "grumbling" in the Lightning locker room.

"I don't think there is anything like that," he said.

The locker room became a place of interest after Hockey Night in Canada's Al Strachan said a player was his source for a report that owner Len Barrie was inside, diagramming plays during one of the season-opening games in Prague.

The team strongly denounced the story, and coach Barry Melrose again called it "a lie."

"Canada used to be a country where you couldn't lie," he said. "I was brought up in Saskatchewan, and if I lied, my father would kick my butt. But, obviously, that's not the case in Ontario, where you can say anything you want without repercussions."

Prospal held firm when a Toronto reporter pestered him about possible problems in the locker room.

"We have a good group of guys here. We get along great," Prospal said. "We have no problems. We just have to get some wins.

"Obviously, everybody wants there to be more wins," he added. "There are no problems anywhere else."

VINNY WANTS MORE: Vinny Lecavalier entered Tuesday averaging 19:31 of ice time, but played 18:25 and 16:38 his past two games and politely said he would like more minutes.

"It's definitely a change," he said. "I would like to play more. I want to get the 20 minutes in there, or 21 minutes. A lot of people say we played too much last year and I understand that. But 20, 21 minutes, I think would be a good number."

Melrose has said he does not want Lecavalier or Marty St. Louis averaging 25 minutes as they did last season. But Lecavalier said, "The more you play, the more you're into the game. I'm so used to always being back out there and being in the game; when you play 16, 17 minutes it's a little tougher to do."

POPULAR GUY: About 50 reporters staked out Steven Stamkos' locker after the morning skate. His reaction: "It was pretty cool."

Stamkos grew up in the Toronto suburb of Unionville, and played his first game at the Air Canada Centre. And while expectations were Stamkos would be badgered about a lack of points and playing time, he was treated kindly.

He even got a boost from Melrose, who said the center, averaging 11:09 of ice time, will start getting more power-play time.

"We're trying to get him his first goal, too," Melrose said. "That will give the people something else to write about, when he scores his first goal."

ODDS AND ENDS: Prospal played his 800th NHL game. ... Fs Ryan Craig (groin), Radim Vrbata (groin) and Jason Ward, and D Janne Niskala were scratched.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8622. View his blog at lightning.sptimes.com.

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