TAMPA — After sitting out as a healthy scratch the first two games, veteran D Eric Brewer returned to the lineup Monday night against the Canadiens.
Brewer, 35, Tampa Bay's most experienced defenseman, was not happy to sit and didn't appear interested in elaborating on the topic Monday.
"They've made their choices, we just deal with it," Brewer said. "We just come to play and do what you're told, see how it goes."
Brewer's absence from the lineup in the first two games sparked speculation over the weekend, with TSN's Bob McKenzie reporting Brewer's name was "out there" in trade talks. But coach Jon Cooper said Brewer, who has a no-trade clause, is part of the "big picture" in the team's plans this season.
Brewer even wore an "A" Monday, along with LW Ondrej Palat, as the alternate captains will rotate until later this month.
"The one thing about Brewer, he's a pro," Cooper said. "He works his tail off, and he waits for his chance. But, I'm sure he's not been happy about (being scratched). I don't know, that's probably good in a player I think. You shouldn't be happy about your being sat out. …
"You feel for the guys. You want them all to succeed," Cooper said. "Everybody wants to play. Nobody wants to sit down and feel 'I'm sitting out, am I not wanted?' That's not the case at all. Somebody's got to make those decisions. What we're doing, so many factors go into it, but, ultimately, is what do we have to put in the lineup to win tonight?"
Drouin watch: Touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin (right thumb fracture) did not play for the third straight game but is "really close" to being ready to make his NHL debut, Cooper said.
Drouin, 19, participated in Monday's morning skate but wasn't involved in line rushes or contact drills. Cooper said Drouin was due for a final follow-up exam Monday night or today.
Cooper's fear is rushing Drouin back and having him re-injure the thumb and be lost for an extended period.
"He's not quite ready," Cooper said. "I've said this in the past, we're going to play him when he's most ready to play."
Lesson learned: G Ben Bishop said that in Saturday night's shootout against Ottawa, he allowed two goals in three attempts because the new rules gave him no time to prepare for it. "I had no idea it was coming that quick," he said. "You've got to learn. Now we know."
Ice chips: D Andrej Sustr and D Mark Barberio were also scratched. … G Evgeni Nabokov likely will start tonight against the Devils. … C Vladislav Namestnikov picked up his first career goal and assist. … RW Ryan Callahan, who had a team-high five hits, and Ondrej Palat also scored. … The Lightning power play is 6-for-14 (40 percent).
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