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Clymer's return leaves no room for Olvestad

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 30, 2003

TAMPA -- Ben Clymer returned to the Lightning lineup Saturday after missing four games with a groin strain. Fellow right wing Jimmie Olvestad, who has played well recently, was a healthy scratch.

Coach John Tortorella would not discuss the switch but said Clymer was playing his best hockey when he reinjured his groin. Clymer also missed 12 games from Dec.31-Jan.30.

Said Olvestad: "You never think you should be out of the lineup, but it's something I have to accept. I think I've been playing my best hockey the last four games (but) there are so many awesome hockey players on this team right now. It's tough to coach, too, I guess, just picking (a lineup) from all the guys here."

Tortorella said Olvestad struggled in his first game back, March20 at Los Angeles, after missing 24 as a healthy scratch, "but from then on he played very well." Other Tampa Bay scratches were defensemen Brad Lukowich (eye), Marc Bergevin, Darren Rumble and Janne Laukkanen and left wing Chris Dingman.

TAKING IT SLOW: Defenseman Jassen Cullimore will continue to play in various pairings, limited in the number and duration of his shifts as he regains his strength and instincts after missing 54 games due to shoulder surgery. Saturday's 1-1 tie against Florida was his second game back.

Getting used to game speed can be tough, Tortorella said.

"That was to protect him," Tortorella said. "No matter what you say, you think you're ready. You're not ready for game action until you get some looks and go through the game speed. So we're slowly trying to bring Cully into that."

BREAK IT UP: Right wing Andre Roy and defenseman Pavel Kubina were clutching each other's jersey and swinging fists during morning practice.

The giveaway was that, though they weren't smiling, they also weren't connecting very often.

"We were just fooling around," Roy said. "We usually don't do this on game day. But I was shooting pucks and I was skating backwards to get a one-timer pass and Kubie was skating backwards, too, and I ran into him and fell down. I said, 'What are you doing?' and we started. All pretend."

SOLD: The team sold 300 tickets for Game1 of the playoffs and 350 for Game2 by the end of Saturday's game.

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