Though Tampa Bay Lightning LW Ryan Malone feels good enough to play on Wednesday against Toronto, he understands why he won’t be in the lineup.
Malone missed practice on Tuesday while feeling under the weather and still had some of the effects during Wednesday’s morning skate, in which he did participate. But head coach Jon Cooper said Malone will be held out, citing Malone’s fever the day before as part of the reason.
Malone feels his play in recent games – particularly the past two – warrants him being a healthy scratch.
In a loss at Montreal on Thursday, his blind, back-hand pass just inside the defensive blue line led directly to the Canadiens’ second goal. On Sunday against Carolina, Malone had the puck on his stick in his own crease, but his indecision allowed Jiri Tlusty to knock the puck off Malone’s stick and into the net for the Hurricanes’ third goal.
Tampa Bay lost each game by a goal.
“If you are not out there making good plays and not being hard to play against, you are not really bringing anything to the table,’’ Malone said. “I don’t think I’ve really done too much, and the past two games I’ve probably cost the team a goal, for sure. So that hasn’t been very good.’’
Malone missed nine games recently after separating his left shoulder on March 18. Since his return on April 9, five games after Cooper took over for Guy Boucher behind the bench, Malone has not registered a point. He has just one shot on goal in the past three games.
“I’ve watched him go in spurts,” Cooper said. “He’s had some shifts where I thought he was asleep and he’s had some shifts where he was the best player on the ice. So, now it’s to get him back into sustaining that to where he’s back being the big, power forward.’’
Malone won’t use it as an excuse, but he said his shoulder is not 100 percent and needs time to re-strengthen. He pushed himself to get back into the lineup for what he hoped was a playoff push.
“It’s just frustrating,’’ Malone said. “You come back to help anyway you can, but things just sort of snowballed for myself, you lose some confidence and you end up becoming a player you don’t want to be.’’
Boston strong The Lightning will wear Boston Strong stickers on the back of their helmets for Thursday’s makeup game in Boston to help support the victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings. The helmets will be signed by each player and auctioned, with the proceeds to benefit the Boston One Fund.
Tampa Bay LW Alex Killorn spent the previous four years in the Boston area while attending Harvard University and has some friends and acquaintances who were participating in the marathon, including the friend of a friend who suffered burns as a result of the bombs.
“I know a lot of teams and athletes have shown their support for Boston, and for us to show our support is a great thing,’’ Killorn said.
Changes coming? Newly acquired D Mathieu Roy, who signed a contract Tuesday for the remainder of the season, cleared waivers on Wednesday and is free to join the team for the final two games.
Roy, who appeared in two games with Tampa Bay during the 2010-11 season, is expected to join the team in Boston on Thursday. His addition could pave the way for rookie D Radko Gudas, as well as RW Richard Panik, to return to Syracuse for the start of the American Hockey League playoffs on Saturday.
Those decisions will be based on the overall health of the team coming out of Thursday’s game, Cooper said. Tampa Bay ends the season on Saturday at home against Florida.
“We’ll see where we are at, depending on how we are going to move forward with some of the young guys, and with the last game of the year coming up, protection against injuries and potentially helping out Syracuse,’’ Cooper said. “So, we are just keeping all of our options open because we don’t want to be short at the end of the year.’’