DALLAS — With trade rumors and speculation swirling around Marty St. Louis off the ice, the Lightning captain finds refuge on the ice.
He also finds a way to be productive.
Since reports came out early in the week that he requested a trade after being left off the initial Canadian Olympic roster on Jan. 7, St. Louis has responded with back-to-back multi-goal games and is now, at age 38, one goal shy of producing his seventh 30-goal season. He scored twice in Saturday’s 4-2 win at Dallas.
“For me, being on the ice is, that’s almost like you are getting your fix and all the distractions or whatever, you get on the ice and you just go play,” St. Louis said. “For me, it’s a safe place.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he’s not surprised that St. Louis is able to block out any of those situations and play at a high level.
“The one thing about Marty is he is a pro, so whatever is swirling around the other 23 hours of the day, the 60-minute game he plays,” Cooper said. “This isn’t his first rodeo. As soon as he steps on the ice and the whistle blows, that kid comes to play and that’s what you want in a player. All this speculation of him being moved or wanted to be traded, that doesn’t come into one spot in our locker room of how we prepare to win a hockey game.
“It’s all business, and we needed four goals to win tonight. He scored two of them. That’s what you need out of your go-to guys, and it’s impressive that he pushes it aside and plays the game.”
St. Louis also scored twice in Winnipeg on Jan. 7, the day of the Olympic roster announcement.
Lightning assistant coach George Gwozdecky makes a homecoming, of sorts, today when Tampa Bay faces Colorado.
Gwozdecky spent 19 years as the head coach at the University of Denver before being fired at the end of the 2012-13 season. He caught on with the Lightning during the summer and will make his first trip back to Denver as an NHL coach.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my family, both my wife and daughter will be there at the game,’’ Gwozdecky said. “There are some good, life-long friends that we might be able to catch a cup of coffee with during our short time in Denver, but it’s our summer home, and we have so many great friends, great relationships and great memories from our years there, so it’s always nice to go home.’’
In his first year with an NHL club, Gwozdecky has brought plenty of coaching experience, even if he’s never coached professional players before.
“He’s been a head coach for a long time, so he probably sees things a little more like I see things from that perspective, so it’s good to bounce things off him that way,’’ Cooper said.
The adjustment going from coaching college kids to professional players hasn’t been as great of a leap for Gwozdecky as he might have expected.
“I think the skill level, certainly with the elite players at this level, but they are still all young guys that want to be given opportunities to succeed and (learn) how to do things better,’’ he said. “We are still here to help them and encourage them and motivate them, help them with their success level. These guys know they have reached this level because of how hard they have to work. That’s something that maybe at college you don’t see because they know that unless they really, really mess up, they are going to be there four years.’’
G Anders Lindback, who has been out with an ankle injury suffered Jan. 23, made his first of two scheduled conditioning starts for Syracuse on Friday and posted a 30-save shutout in a 4-0 victory against Wilkes/Barre-Scranton. Lindback took the night off Saturday but is scheduled to be back in net for Syracuse today when the Crunch play at Adirondack, N.Y.
If all goes as expected, Lindback is scheduled to rejoin the Lightning ahead of Tuesday’s game in St. Louis.
“I watched most of the game on the Internet, and he looked pretty solid,’’ Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said.
Nuts and Bolts
D Mike Kostka made his Lightning debut as the seventh defenseman, getting 8:42 of ice time with five blocked shots. ... D Keith Aulie and LW B.J. Crombeen were scratched. ... D Victor Hedman recorded his 100th career assist. ... C Valtteri Filppula sat out his third consecutive game while recovering from a non-displaced fracture in his ankle.