Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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Lightning’s Ryan Malone to play vs. Hurricanes
Posted Nov 1, 2011 by Erik Erlendsson
Updated Nov 1, 2011 at 02:30 PM
RALEIGH - The Lightning may have caught a break as LW Ryan Malone didn’t suffer any kind of a break. Or strain. Or tear.
After missing practice to undergo both an X-ray and MRI on Monday, Malone was given the green light and will be in the lineup when Tampa Bay faces the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at RBC Center. Malone was one of the first players on the ice for the morning skate and said he has no limitations despite suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury during Saturday’s home victory against Winnipeg.
“We just wanted to look at an injury that is OK,’’ Malone said Tuesday morning. “We did an MRI just to check things out and everything is good. I’m ready to play.’’
The mystery injury is not related to his surgically repaired shoulder – stemming from a separated shoulder suffered in the first round of the playoffs – which kept him away from contact for the first two weeks of training camp. But whatever the situation involves, it won’t be enough to keep him out of the lineup.
“Unless he comes off the ice after a bad miracle happens, but right now we are believing in the good miracle, so he should be fine,’’ head coach Guy Boucher said.
One change Boucher did make for the game is inserting LW Mattias Ritola into the lineup while taking out C Tom Pyatt as the coaching staff continues to tackle the challenge of not letting players sit for too long of an extended period of time. Ritola has appeared in four of the first 11 games and has not played since the home opener on Oct. 17.
“It’s not because Pyatt isn’t playing well, I just don’t want to lose Rito,’’ Boucher said. “Rito hasn’t played in a while and in the games he’s played he’s played really well. We all know that we have a bunch of extra forwards since we kept (rookie Brett) Connolly and at this point of the year I don’t want to lose any guys.’’
D Marc-Andre Bergeron finished the month of October with a team-high 12 points on two goals and 10 assists. The 12 points mark the third highest point total in a month for a defenseman in franchise history.
The record of 15 is held by Doug Crossman (Nov., 1992) and Dan Boyle (Nov., 2005). Boyle also had 13 points in Dec. 2006, and 12 points in Dec. 2002. Roman Hamrlik (Nov. 1995) and Shawn Chambers (March 1994) also registered 13-point months by a defensemen.
KEEPING IT UP
Despite only playing 10 minutes, 34 seconds on Saturday, and only taking two shifts in the third period, Connolly’s level of play has not dropped off, according to Boucher.
Connolly remains in a top six role currently playing with C Vinny Lecavalier and RW Marty St. Louis. And though the rookie is still looking for his first goal, Connolly has three assists and his plus-3 rating is tied for second on the team.
“There’s no two-ways about it, he’s an NHL player,” Boucher said. “He has speed, he’s smart enough and has great vision (on the ice). He’s got grit, a lot of grit actually. All these make for a player who can play on our top two lines right now.’’