If you're a print media reader, like I am, who cherishes their morning paper, you may have noticed the aside snippet in the St. Pete Times this morning that announced Martin St. Louis was back on ice at practice yesterday. If you were online last night, or even this morning, scouring hockey news via Twitter and other electronic sources for your Lightning and NHL fix, you would have found more news about Marty practicing for the first time since December 8th.
Hat tip, stick tap, and high praise to Tampa Tribune beat reporter Erik Erlendsson for keeping the fans abreast on what was going on during practice (via Twitter) and his full write-up regarding St. Louis' return that appeared on TBO early this morning.
And while fans were surprised St. Louis had returned to practice (full speed, contact and all) so quickly from such a serious injury... So is Marty:
"All said and done, if you had told me I'd be skating 12 days after it happened, I would have paid for that," said St. Louis, whose nose was broken and orbital bone fractured. "So, I count my blessings that I'm able to be out there right now."
So, with the Bolts playing late night hockey in Silicon Valley, it's worth musing about if Marty St. Louis will suit up tonight against the San Jose Sharks, or if it's better (for health and safety sake) for him to hold off until the team returns to Tampa get back into the game.
Marty, Marty, Marty... Talking injury and focusing on St. Louis' potential return overlooks the Bolts other injury woes that will affect who plays during tonight's game against the Sharks. Nate Thompson went down early during the Bolts win versus the Columbus Blue Jackets last weekend, and defenseman Matt Gilroy is hurting. The Bolts made a pair of call-ups before departing for the West Coast: forward JT Wyman, and defenseman Evan Oberg.
Oberg... You've heard that name several times now, but have yet to see him play. He's earned nicknames such as "Yo-Yo" for his up-and-down travels (promotion, demotion, promotion, demotion) or "Pilot Wings" for his frequent flier miles that he has racked up as of late. Evan has played six games with the Norfolk Admirals since he and defenseman Mike Kostka were acquired from the Florida Panthers. He's got 3 assists and is a +5 too. He is yet to make an appearance in a Lightning game despite his numerous travels with the team.
Will he play tonight? In the wake of Gilroy's injury, it's almost a certainty that the Bolts will go with Bruno Gervais on defense. Evan will get his chance, but it may not be soon.
JT Wyman is a former Hamilton Bulldog, who played under Guy Boucher';s system in 2009-10. He also is on the fence with playing tonight: it hinges on if Marty plans to play or not.
While the Lightning would like nothing more than to get a victory tonight against the Sharks, it's not going to be an easy task. San Jose has 37 points on the season, two behind Pacific Division leading Dallas. They're 3-2-2 in their past seven games (including a victory over Dallas last week).
The Sharks have two issues that mirror the Bolts own issues at current: They are down a top-6 forward with the first name "Martin" (Martin Havlat is out for San Jose) and are looking to string together a three game winning streak with a victory tonight.
By the way: Matthieu Garon is slated to start in net for the Lightning tonight. I wouldn't be surprised to see Roloson start against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.