Coach Cooper answered some questions about the roster following practice yesterday. While Mathieu Joseph was on the ice for practice, the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach told reporters that he was “doubtful” to play against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Gabriel Fortier took some line rushes in Joseph’s spot on the Steven Stamkos line as well as some rotations on the penalty kill unit.
Fortier was skating on the Syracuse Crunch’s top line before his recall and was also one of the top penalty killers on one of the best units in the AHL. Asking him to step into that role at the NHL level could be a bit much, but Coach Cooper trusts the preparation the players receive under Ben Groulx’s leadership in Syracuse.
The Lightning skipper was a little more optimistic in regards to the possibility of Erik Cernak’s return “possible”. The big defenseman’s return would be a huge addition to the Lightning’s defensive core, especially against a Blues team with a lethal power play.
There was no update on Nikita Kucherov or Brayden Point, so we can assume they are still on track with their rehabilitation schedules.
Lightning / NHL News
Gabriel Fortier gets the call to the NHL [Raw Charge]
Coach Cooper said that he could “potentially” make it into the line-up in St. Louis. Even if he doesn’t, it’s still a big day for the 21-year-old.
As injuries continue, another opportunity arises [Tampa Bay Times]
Fortier has the chance to become the next forward to step into an opportunity following a call-up. It’s a shame that it comes due to an injury, but if he does get his chance, he will provide a similar skill set that Mathieu Joseph possess.
Lightning quarter-season recap [The Athletic]
The MVP - Andrei Vasilevskiy
Biggest Surprises - The Kid Line and Steven Stamkos
Most Improved - Mathieu Joseph
Most Unlucky - Corey Perry
The Lightning will be heading up to Boston later this week, it’s quite possible that DeBrusk may not be there. On Monday his agent, Rick Valette, confirmed that the 25-year-old forward has asked for a trade. In five seasons he’s posted 140 points (70 goals, 70 assists) with Boston but has struggled to find a consistant fit with the team over the past couple of seasons. He could serve as a mid-range cost, middle-six forward for a competitive team looking for depth.
Brad Marchand suspended for three games [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
One player the Lightning definitely won’t be facing on Saturday is Brad Marchand. The long-time forward was suspended for three games for his slew foot on Oliver Ekman-Larsson in their last game. It’s his first suspension since 2018.
NHL Names Three Stars of the Week [NHL.com]
A four-goal, three-assist week was good enough for the ageless one, Alex Ovechkin, to earn the number one star of the week in the NHL. He posted a hat trick and a three-assist game and is up to 19 goals on the season. Tristan Jarry was the second star and Cale Makar the third.
Penguins, Fenway Sports Group reach agreement on sale of team [CBS Pittsburgh]
As was rumored last week, FSG has agreed to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins. One minor new detail is that it appears current owner Ron Burkle will remain with the organization in some form. The original reports had him completely selling his stake. The sale does still have to be approved by the NHL, which shouldn’t be a problem.
The Lightning make neither the surprises or disappointments sections in this list. I guess that’s a good thing.
Another look at the first 25% of the season. There is a passing reference to the Lightning, but it’s more of a general look at the league.