TAMPA -- Ran into old pal Chris Gratton today in the hallway underneath the Ice Palace, and, as always, had a good conversation/interview. There was a reason Gratts was always one of our go-to guys. He's honest, forthcoming and thoughtful.
In other words, a good interview.
Anyway, a lot of this is going to run tomorrow in the Herald, but he told me he was initially surprised by the July trade, yet after thinking about it a while, says the surprise wore off. "I think I saw some signs last year,'' he said.
After his scary incident where he got smacked in the face with a stick and almost had irreparable eye damage, Gratton is now wearing a visor (and according to Olli, he's now going without a visor starting tonight.) Gratton says the eye injury was scary because "sometimes you take the simple things for granted.''
Again, more tomorrow.
AND NOW, DA NEWS...
-- G Craig Anderson gets the start tonight, Tomas Vokoun back in net tomorrow against the Devils.
-- D Mike Van Ryn back in the lineup. Noah Welch appears to be the odd man out.
-- Todd Bertuzzi may miss tonight's home opener in Anaheim. Nothing serious, he says, just a groin injury suffered in the loss at Columbus.
-- Also, thanks to all those who sent in questions for Panthers players yesterday and today. Got a few good ones. Have a few stockpiled, but not many. If you have a specific question to be asked of a specific player for next Sunday's NHL Extra, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Here's my notebook that appeared in Wednesday's paper. It hasn't found its way online yet. Trying to iron out some of the glitches....
BOOTH MOVES UP
Two games into the season and Jacques Martin is already shuffling the Florida lines. In practice Tuesday, the top line consisted of Olli Jokinen, Ville Peltonen and Richard Zednik as expected.
Martin changed up the rest of the lines, moving David Booth up to the second line to replace Rostislav Olesz. Booth will play on a line with center Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton. Olesz moves to the third line with center Jozef Stumpel and Radek Dvorak. Gregory Campbell centers a fourth line featuring Rob Globke and Brett McLean on the wings.
“I think he may be more similar to Martin Gelinas in using his speed to get in there and finish checks,’’ Martin said of Booth’s promotion. “We don’t have one line that’s produced, so you try and find something that works.’’
Said Booth: “Hopefully we can get something going.’’
The Panthers have scored just three goals in two games this season.
ANDERSON TO PLAY
With the Panthers about to play two games in as many nights, Martin said backup Craig Anderson would see some playing time to spell starter Tomas Vokoun.
Martin did not indicate which game Anderson would play in, but in years past, Martin has gone with the starter in the first game and if he felt the starter didn’t see too much time might stick with him in the second game as well. “The plans are to let Craig play one of those games,’’ Martin said.
Tuesday, Martin said he spoke with Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. According to Martin, Vigneault told him to be patient with Vokoun (0-2) because Roberto Luongo got off to a slow start last year as he adjusted to a new team, city and conference.
“Confidence is a factor,’’ Martin said. “He has to work his way into the goaltending he’s capable of. Everyone goes through that. Alain called me, and told me it took Louie a little while to get going last year. Sometimes there’s a period of adjustment when you come to a new team. Tomas had a good session today. We’ll keep working.’’
PANTHERS AT LIGHTNING
When: Tonight, 7:30
Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa
TV/Radio: FSNF/790 The Ticket
The Scoop: The two teams have gotten off to opposite starts. Tampa Bay is 2-0 with victories against New Jersey and Atlanta; Florida is 0-2 with losses at New York and against Jersey. .-.-. Panthers have owned series since lockout ended, winning 11 of 16 meetings. Panthers were 2-2 in Tampa last year. .-.-. Former Panther Chris Gratton (traded in July) is scoreless in two games with Bolts.
-- GEORGE RICHARDS