Vincent Lecavalier back on the ice for first time since hand surgery

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the thick of things in the Southeast Division and they’re going to be getting a little bit better soon. Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier returned to the ice this morning for team practice. He was sporting a red non-contact jersey, but getting back on the ice nonetheless. It’s expected he’ll be able to return to the Lightning lineup in a week or two.

Lecavalier has been out the last few weeks with a broken hand suffered against Washington back on November 11th. While Lecavalier has been recovering from hand surgery, Steve Stamkos has officially taken over as the team’s main source of offense teaming up with Martin St. Louis to be one of the NHL’s top scoring tandems. Lecavalier will return to have Simon Gagne and Ryan Malone to skate with him on the second line. Both of those guys have had their issues scoring this year, but having Lecavalier return should help alleviate some of those problems.

The bigger problems in Tampa Bay, for now, surround having wildly inconsistent goaltending. If neither Dan Ellis nor Mike Smith can prove themselves to be capable of stopping pucks on a regular basis then the talk of having Evgeni Nabokov join the team when he returns to North America in the near future will only grow stronger.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.