The Tampa Bay Lightning are down 2-0 in their first round series with the Montreal Canadiens and they’re hoping they can get key rookie forward Ondrej Palat back for Game 3.
According to Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times, Palat skated at an optional practice this morning. Palat missed Game 2 and left Game 1 early in the third period with an injury.
Lightning assistant coach Rick Bowness told NHL.com’s Arpon Basu that Palat will be a game-day decision for Game 3 much the same as he was for Game 2.
With Tampa Bay down in the series and headed to Montreal, the Lightning are in a bit of a desperate position. Getting Palat and possibly Ben Bishop back in Game 3 on Sunday night would be a major lift.
Rick Bowness was an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks until recently, but it’s looking like he could be back behind a bench soon.
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Lightning are close to signing Bowness to be head coach Jon Cooper’s new assistant coach. Tampa Bay is in the market for a new assistant after they did not offer former assistant coach Dan Lacroix a new contract.
Bowness has a lot of history in hockey as a coach as he’s spent the last 21 years behind the bench in some fashion. The last seven years he’s spent as Alain Vigneault’s assistant in Vancouver until being fired just a couple weeks ago. He was an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes for five years before his time in Vancouver.
Despite declaring himself ready to play, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo won’t be in net tonight when Vancouver plays Phoenix. Instead, backup Cory Schneider will get his fourth-consecutive start — a decision deemed “a no-brainer” by assistant coach Rick Bowness.
“There are times when you really don’t have to work your brain too hard to make that decision,” Bowness told the Vancouver Sun. “[Schneider] is coming off a 2-1 win and then pitches a shutout. It’s a no-brainer. He’s playing great and he deserves to be right back in there and he is.”
PHT’s covered the Luongo-Schneider situation extensively (which has nothing to do its two newest writers being from Vancouver), and our very own Jason Brough wrote this prior to Vancouver’s 3-0 win over Colorado on Wednesday:
So…what happens if Schneider is brilliant again tonight? The 25-year-old has the superior stats (2.52 GAA, .912 SV%) compared to Luongo (2.97 GAA, .896 SV%). If Vigneault’s “the best players will play” mantra is sincere – and based on his willingness to make big-money defenseman Keith Ballard a healthy scratch, it’s hard to say it’s not – how will he approach his goaltending situation going forward? Does he ride the hot hand while Luongo wears the ball cap on the bench?
Schneider was brilliant against the Avs (stopping all 24 shots for his first shutout of the year), and Vigneault approached his goaltending situation the way many have clamored for. He’s riding Schneider’s hot hand and making Luongo wear the ball cap.
The big question now is what Luongo and his 12-year, $64-million deal think about all this. Upon learning he wouldn’t play against Colorado (after announcing he was healthy) Luongo temporarily halted goalie controversy talk by saying, “we have the luxury of two good goalies here, Schneids is giving me a couple extra practices here to make sure my timing is back.”
But Luongo added he was practicing under the assumption he’d be back in goal Friday against the Coyotes.
Now it’s Friday, and Luongo is back on the pine.