B.J. Crombeen describes himself as an old-school player, and that, the Lightning right wing said, means "working your hardest every single day, not taking anything for granted, and trying to make the most of it."
It is a sentiment Crombeen carried on his long road to the NHL that went though the East Coast league, Finland and the AHL while also keeping his Type I diabetes in check.
It is for that journey the Tampa Bay chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association named Crombeen its nominee for the Masterton Trophy, given annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance and dedication to the game.
The winner will be announced at this summer's NHL awards show.
"It's a great honor," Crombeen, 27, said Thursday. "You put a lot of hard work into what you do, and when you get honored with something like that, it's a special feeling and accomplishment."
Crombeen, who recently signed a two-year contract extension through 2014-15, has been a solid contributor.
He has a goal and eight points in 43 games while averaging 11:05 of ice time. He is a tireless penalty-killer and is plus-5, with only four minus games all season. True to his old-school sensibility, Crombeen is first to defend a teammate and has a league-most 14 fights.
"He's way faster and more aggressive than I ever thought," coach Jon Cooper said. "I guess in my head I always thought B.J. Crombeen is just a guy who went out there and fought. He's not that at all. He can get up and down the ice, and can fire the puck hard. He hits hard. He's a 200-foot player."
"It's part of the way I was brought up," Crombeen said. "My dad let me know how much hard work and sacrifice and determination it would take to get where you wanted. It's something I've tried to remember every day."
COUNTRY CALLING: As expected, G Ben Bishop, D Matt Carle and C Nate Thompson were named to the U.S. team for next month's world championship in Sweden and Finland. "Any time you can represent your country in anything, it's a big honor," Bishop said, "so I'm just excited for the opportunity."
TO THE LIMIT: How did D Radko Gudas avoided serious injury late in the first period Wednesday, when his right ankle folded under him as he checked Toronto's Joe Colborne?
Daily stretching, Gudas surmised. "I'm glad I'm so flexible."
Gudas admitted he was scared when the injury occurred because he had pain from knee to ankle. But he was on the ice for the start of the second period, scored the winning goal in the 5-2 victory and then said the whole thing was no big deal.
"I stretch every day to be as flexible as I can," Gudas said. "I guess it paid off."
ODDS AND ENDS: D Mathieu Roy, signed for the rest of the season, finally joined the team and could play in Saturday's finale against the Panthers. ... With Roy available, Gudas and RW Richard Panik were reassigned to AHL Syracuse for the playoffs. ... LW Ryan Malone and G Mathieu Garon were scratched for the 2-0 loss to the Bruins. ... Tampa Bay lost 64 percent of faceoffs to Boston (36-of-56). ... The Lightning ended with a 6-16-2 road record.