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Andreychuk glad to be skating again

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 22, 2002

TAMPA -- Dave Andreychuk leaned down, sweat dripping from his chin, and happily performed a task most professional hockey players would consider mundane.

He unlaced his skates.

Andreychuk skated with the team Saturday morning for the first time since leaving the lineup Dec. 3 with a fractured big toe. The veteran is not quite ready to play, but his presence lifted everyone's spirits.

"It's good for my sanity," said Andreychuk, who skated for the first time Friday at Brandon Sports Forum, not under the watchful eye of Tampa Bay's trainer but with his daughters. "It was fun to get back on the ice."

Andreychuk, who played four games with the broken toe before submitting to an MRI, was expected to miss 4-6 weeks, but he could return this week. Several players asked Andreychuk after the morning skate if he would play Saturday against the Predators.

"No, there's still too much pain," Andreychuk said. "I could play if I had to, but we don't want to take a chance. If I take another puck on it, then it's displaced and we're talking surgery."

"With David, as we all know, it doesn't matter what time frame is put on it by the doctors and trainers," coach John Tortorella said. "It's going to be up to David and I believe he'll come back quicker than all those people expected."

SLIGHT DELAY: Forward Brian Holzinger, on a six-game conditioning stint with minor-league Springfield, was expected to rejoin the Lightning but will not make the trip for Monday's game at Washington. Holzinger, who broke his foot in the preseason, will return to Tampa and be available Friday against East leader Boston.

STILL STREAKING: Center Brad Richards extended the league's longest current point-scoring streak to 10 games, matching his career high from last season. He is tied for the franchise's second-longest streak, three games shy of Brian Bradley's record set Nov. 1-24, 1992.

IN STITCHES: Center Tim Taylor was hit in the face by a puck before the game and needed six stitches. Less than two weeks ago Taylor required 16 stitches above and below his left eye after being hit by Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez' stick.

Also, defenseman Pavel Kubina missed overtime because of a gash on his nose that needed seven stitches. The injury occurred in the final seconds of regulation, when Nashville's Denis Pederson clipped Kubina with his skate as the two fell to the ice.

SCRATCHED: RW Jimmie Olvestad was scratched for the seventh consecutive game, 10th in the past 14. Recovered from the flu, he was a healthy scratch.


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