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Denis adjusts to faster pace
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA and DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 18, 2006
BRANDON - His only game action in a Lightning uniform has been two scrimmages, a pair of games that mean nothing once the regular season begins next month.
But to new Tampa Bay goaltender Marc Denis, these moments are precious.
Denis has allowed eight goals in the first two days of scrimmaging, which might raise an eyebrow among the most skeptical of fans. But Denis' focus is on experimenting with his positioning on defending the rush in Tampa Bay's fast-tempo system.
"As much as you want to be on top of your game when camp starts, you've got to remember that being a goalie is a process and you've got to see some shots and feel some rubber to get a feel of the game," Denis said. "Yes, it might mean that a few get by me in the scrimmages. I'm already more comfortable than (Saturday)."
Denis made 16 saves on 19 shots playing for the Red team in a 5-3 win over White at the Ice Sports Forum on Sunday, including an impressive stop of Clayton Barthel's breakaway to preserve a one-goal lead.
"There's no secret to it. You can't just come in and say I'm going to change how I face the rush," Denis said. "These are the only opportunities you have all year in game situations to play around with the things you want. Once the games start, even the preseason, you're playing. Everything is result driven."
BURKE SKATES: Sean Burke skated for the first time but only with other injured players. The goaltender said his lower back is better, and though "encouraged," it will be another few days before he is ready to join the rest of camp.
"I don't expect to be 100 percent (today) or the next day, but I wanted to get to a point where a doctor at least cleared me to get on the ice and work on my conditioning and my game," he said. "I've definitely turned a corner."
Burke, 39, said he hurt his back about 10 days ago working out in Phoenix.
"It just locked up a little bit," he said. (Sunday) was the first day it had alleviated enough for me to get on the ice."
The 17-year veteran came into camp behind Johan Holmqvist on the depth chart, and his lack of work won't help if, as he has said, he expects to compete for the backup job.
"In any other year of my career, you could miss a couple of days at the start of camp if you had to and you knew you were going to work yourself back and be prepared for Game 1 of the season," Burke said. "This year, from things that I've heard, maybe that's not the case anymore."
ODDS AND ENDS: Coach John Tortorella said camp appeared "tired" Sunday. "I think they leveled off a bit in the scrimmages," he said. ... Tortorella said he expected to begin sending out players after Tuesday's practice to trim the roster before the team travels to Washington for the first preseason game Wednesday. ... Wing Norm Milley continued to jell with linemates Tim Taylor and Rob DiMaio in Sunday's scrimmage, scoring the go-ahead goal and contributing the assist on a late empty-netter. Milley is tied with Nikita Alexeev for the camp lead with five points. ... Defenseman Paul Ranger missed Sunday's scrimmage and practice after taking a puck off his left foot Saturday. Ranger, day to day with a bruise, left Sunday in a walking boot. ... Ruslan Fedetenko (hip) sat out Sunday's activities as a precaution.