Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper announced that winger Ondrej Palat is not expected to play Sunday, but after that the 27-year-old is expected to be listed as “day-to-day” and could be back soon. Palat hasn’t played since Oct. 26 when he left the game with a lower body injury and subsequently was listed out for at least four weeks. That seems about right as the team could get him back at some point this week.
Palat has appeared in just nine games this season and has failed to find the back of the net as he has just five assists in that span. The team needs the winger to return and re-establish himself in the team’s top-six as he also dealt with injuries last year as he played in 56 games, tallying only 11 goals.
Cooper also added that defenseman Anton Stralman is being re-evaluated and will be out Sunday. The 32-year-old hasn’t played since Nov. 8 with an undisclosed injury. Stralman has eight points in 16 games.
- The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports that center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has been out all season with a torn Achilles muscle, continues to make amazing progress as he joined the team on their four-game road trip in New York and skated with the team Sunday in a non-contact jersey. Despite a six-month timetable in mid-September, Pageau looks closer and closer to returning to the team quite a bit earlier than the original diagnosis. Garrioch also notes that Mark Stone, Colin White and Mark Borowiecki all took part in skating Sunday.
- The Athletic’s Ian Tulloch (subscription required) breaks down the play of many of the Toronto Maple Leafs from Saturday’s game. Of note, Tulloch writes that one necessity in the near future is that Toronto must find a way to find a spot in their top-four for defenseman Travis Dermott. The 21-year-old is only averaging 17:53 of ATOI, but has been used more and more, getting 23:06 of ice time Saturday. The scribe adds that Dermott has developed into the team’s top defenseman and the Toronto needs to make adjustments accordingly, which means cutting playing time for struggling blueliners Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev.
- After being a healthy scratch for Friday’s game, Montreal Canadiens forward Charles Hudon talked to head coach Claude Julien, who told him to be more aggressive, like he was last season when he had 126 hits, according to Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan. Hudon’s response was he had 13 hits in 9:09 of ice time.
- It looks like the break that Tuukka Rask took a week ago has been paying off for the netminder. Rask has had three impressive starts since taking a critical weekend off earlier this month, including a .938 save percentage in his three appearances since his return, according to the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont.