TAMPA — Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin has had the flu the past few weeks, making what he has done on the ice all the more impressive.
But the illness finally caught up with him Thursday. He was scratched against the Flames. Drouin, who didn't practice Wednesday, was told by the team to stay home and rest, considering the Lightning's next game is Monday against Ottawa.
Concern for Callahan
Coach Jon Cooper felt bad for veteran wing Ryan Callahan, who is out for at least the rest of the regular season after Tuesday's followup procedure on his right hip. But Cooper is encouraged that this surgery, which related to scar tissue, might finally fix an issue that has limited Callahan to 18 games this season after initial surgery in June.
"For him to go through this whole process, especially when our team is having a down year and he knows that he could be a part of helping us turn it around, I know it's killing him," Cooper said. "The big thing is we can get him back and healthy and normal, and feel that … he's on the road to recovery. It's just unfortunate it may not be this year."
The Predators continue to scout the Lightning, with two representatives at Thursday's game. Tampa Bay had reps at the Nashville games last weekend. You wonder if there might be a fit with the defensemen-rich Predators, who need a top-six forward (maybe Tyler Johnson?). Nashville GM David Poile has said he's hesitant to part with any of his top four defensemen but also quipped, "Never say never." Other reps at Thursday's game were from the Devils, Canadiens, Bruins and Senators.
Hanging in there
With Jonathan Drouin out sick Thursday, F Cory Conacher (right) appeared in his eighth NHL game this season, and his first since Dec. 23. This couldn't be what Conacher envisioned when he signed a one-year, one-way deal last summer after playing a season in Switzerland.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little frustrated," Conacher said.
But Conacher isn't complaining. He understands that the other forwards called up, including Gabriel Dumont and recently Michael Bournival, fit a bottom-six role better. Conacher appreciates getting another shot in the NHL, reinforcing his belief that he can play at that level. That's why though Conacher said he has received overtures from teams overseas, he's focused on staying in the NHL, this season or beyond.
"(Being in the NHL) keeps the fire in your belly," Conacher said.
. F Vladislav Namestnikov has goals in three straight games for the first time in his career. That could be the lift the Russian has needed in his up-and-down season.
. D Anton Stralman appeared in his 600th NHL game. It has been quite a journey for the Swede and his wife, Johanna, who have moved 13 times since becoming high school sweethearts.
. Nice touch by the Lightning to hold its first "Pride Night," with a series of events to raise awareness and money for the LGBTQ community and charities. Plus, a really cool-looking T-shirt was being sold, with a portion of proceeds going to Community Tampa Bay, whose mission is to fight discrimination in all forms.
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Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.