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Lightning’s Filppula, Palat expected to return for Game 1

Apr 16, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop won’t play in Game 1 against Montreal tonight (7:00 p.m. ET, CNBC), but the good news is that Valtteri Filppula (lower body) and Ondrej Palat (upper body) should be available, according to the team’s website.

It will be Palat’s playoff debut after he scored 23 goals and 59 points in 81 games. Those rookie numbers would be impressive under any circumstances, but they’re particularly remarkable coming from a guy that was drafted with 208th overall pick less than three years ago. He’s projected to play on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson.

In contract, 30-year-old Filppula is a veteran of 105 playoff games and has won the Stanley Cup, thanks to his time in Detroit. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was questioned for handing him a five-year, $25 million contract over the summer, but Filppula’s efforts have justified the signing.

He scored 25 goals and 58 points in 75 contests and is penciled in to play as the team’s second line center. Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan will probably serve as his wingers.

  1. hockey412 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    If you’d have told me last year that Tampa Bay would make the playoffs, I’d have believed it – but if you said they’d be playing Stamkos on the top line with two 50+ point rookies (who didn’t get their 50+ points as a result of playing with Stamkos), I’d have laughed you silly. Impressed. Jealous, but impressed.

  2. billiam55 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    do the entire hockey world a favor and beat those montreal canadiens.

  3. falstaffsmind - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    The Lightning story is that with each passing day, they become more the AHL Calder Cup teams from 2012 and 2013 than the Lightning team of same period. And that is their secret weapon. Guys like Johnson, Palat, Gudas, Kostka, Killorn, Aulie, Panik etc have been winning in the playoffs while the Lightning struggled. It’s been an amazing transformation. I keep thinking.. with Drouin, and his 27 points in 9 QMJHL playoff games, the Lightning will be even better next year. It’s a good time to be a Lightning fan.

  4. lsxphotog - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    This has certainly been a difficult year for the locker room in Tampa. They lost their veteran captain, Lacavalier, to a contract buy-out. Then, while in the midst of a career year, they lost Stamkos to a career-threatening injury for 45 games. If that wasn’t bad enough, the locker room got a huge shake up as the new captain and face of the franchise, St. Louis, demanded a trade to an Eastern Conference rival. Finally, as the Bolts are poised for a playoff run, its Vezina candidate goaltender goes down to injury.

    The result of all these hurdles has been a team of players stepping into larger roles and excelling. Half the roster are rookies or on their first full NHL season. All of them have performed extremely well. Right now, the biggest concerns for Tampa is goaltending until Bishop can make a return and lack of experience with the rookies. That being said, Lindback looks like a totally different goaltender and rookie call-up Kristers Gudlevskis playing well in his debut. This is shaky footing to establish a playoff run, but much better than the team expected after the Bishop injury. As for the experience…half of the team has won the Calder with Jon Cooper as the coach…it could be a perfect storm brewing for any opponent. We’ll have to see tonight.

    • lsxphotog - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Oh yeah, and the Malone thing! LOL

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