Lightning veteran wing Brenden Morrow returned to the ice Thursday, having been limited the past three days due to a stiff back.
Morrow, 35, was encouraged with how he felt after a long workout, and while he won't play tonight in Sunrise against the Panthers, he's hoping to get into the preseason finale Saturday at Amalie Arena.
"I had a good day today, so spirits are pretty high," Morrow said. "It's been frustrating the last couple days, but I felt really good today. I think we'll see how it reacts after today's skate. But hopeful for Saturday."
The Lightning signed Morrow to a one-year, $1.55 million deal this summer to provide some much-needed experience to a young forward core. One of the first to show up in Brandon for informal skates in August, Morrow looked good in camp, playing alongside C Brian Boyle, though only got to appear in one game.
That's why Morrow wants to get one more tune-up Saturday before next week's regular season opener, to get his timing back.
"One game is not ideal, you'd like to get a few in," Morrow said. "The lockeroom is great, I was comfortable witwh the team even before camp started. The systems aren't something that are instincts yet, so I'd like to play in a game so the reaction isn't to think when you're out there, its' just that instinct when you play. I don't know if that's up to speed right now."
Morrow did point out he arrived late in camp with St. Louis last season and only played in one preseason game, so he's done it before. He'd just prefer not to.
DROUIN UPDATE: Touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin said he'll get an x-ray in the next couple days to see how his fractured right thumb is healing. He's been at practice the last three days wearing a red no-contact jersey, saying it feels better when he stickhandles and takes wrist shots.
But with just a week before the regular season starts, it doesn't appear likely Drouin will be ready by then, as much as he hoped he would. Coach Jon Cooper said they won't rush Drouin, partly because they don't feel like they have to.
"The season is a week away and he's not doing contact drills or being able to use the puck," Cooper said. "Do I hope he'd be ready? It's just another weapon in the arensal we can use. But, in saying that, we want to make sure this is 100-percent healthy and not a nagging thing. As of today, we're not in any position where we need to rush him back. It will be nice to get him back sooner rather than later, just for his confidence so we can see what we have. But we're not going to put him in a situation where we're going to rush him back because we don't really need to at this point."
More notes from today's skate: Morrow, Boyle, C Jonathan Marchessault, D Eric Brewer, D Jason Garrison, D Andrej Sustr, G Ben Bishop and Drouin won't be making the trip to Sunrise tonight... G Evgeni Nabokov will start in net and play the whole game. Cooper said Nabokov's impact goes further than the 20-plus games he'll play this season, but rather his valuable experience helping Bishop...The lines were switched up at today's skate, with C Steven Stamkos playing with Ondrej Palat and Brett Connolly/ Valtteri Filppula with Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov/ Tyler Johnson with Alex Killorn and J.T Brown/ Vladislav Namestnikov with Richard Panik and Cedric Paquette... The Lightning wrapped up its week in Estero and will have a team golf outing Friday before returning to Amalie Arena Saturday.