There's a 'good chance' Jonathan Drouin returns tonight

Published Dec. 30, 2014

Lightning rookie wing Jonathan Drouin was back on the ice Monday, and there's a "good chance" he'll return to the lineup tonight against the Maple Leafs, coach Jon Cooper said.

Drouin, 19, missed Saturday's game due to an illness he said first got to him Christmas night. His stomach didn't bother him, like the bug that got C Tyler Johnson and D Radko Gudas in recent weeks, but he had no energy or appetite. It felt like a cold or flu, Drouin said, which made some fear for the worst.

"My mom was freaking out a little bit, 'You have the mumps?'' Drouin said with a smile. "I'm like, 'No.' It's nice that it wasn't the mumps and I'm ready to play."

Drouin stayed home Saturday, but rode the exercise bike Sunday and felt back to normal Monday during the team skate. He rejoined a line with captain Steven Stamkos and Cedric Paquette. Drouin, who had breakfast Christmas morning with teammate Alex Killorn, quipped Killorn's cooking was the cause for his illness.

"I hope not," Drouin said. "I haven't blamed it on him yet but I probably will."

LW Ondrej Palat did not skate Monday morning, with the team calling it due to "body maintenance." Palat, who missed four games earlier this month with a lower body injury, is also a game-time decision, Cooper said.

"He's just a little banged up and we'll see if he can take warmups,'' Cooper said. "It's a whole conglomerate of things, and with the way he plays I'm surprised he does not get banged up earlier in the season. But it's a couple of nagging things that have flared up on him. ... but it's not a sickness, let's get that out of the way.''

More stuff from morning skate: G Ben Bishop was first off the ice and will make his second straight start tonight against the Maple Leafs. Bishop said he felt good in returning Saturday after missing four games with a lower-body injury... D Jason Garrison (unspecified injury) didn't skate this morning, seemingly having a setback during Sunday's practice. But Cooper insists Garrison, who has missed two games, is close to returning.. The Maple Leafs are the highest scoring team in the league, and Cooper said if Tampa Bay doesn't stick to its structure, Toronto will make them pay.. The power play remains in a funk. "You go through stretches like this, it's not fun, a little frustrating," Stamkos said. "We got two units that can go out there and produce. If one's not going, the other one has to pick them up." The Lightning entered tonight's game second in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, but is just six points ahead of eighth-place Caps (42), which have played two less games.. "You really have to take care of home ice," Bishop said. "It's real tight, so you can't take any games off."