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Tortorella walks fine line with game assignments
Should Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier play on the same line?
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published January 12, 2007
TAMPA - Coach John Tortorella has an interesting decision to make each game: Does he keep high-flying Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier on the same line, or does he break them up to help kick-start a second line?
Tortorella said the decision-making is ongoing, especially considering Tampa Bay's difficulties getting evenly spread offense.
"I just need to make a read on what is effective right now," he said. "I'm not one to lock into lines daily or during a game."
Lecavalier and St. Louis have been stellar together and entered Thursday on the same line and fourth and sixth, respectively, in the league with 57 and 56 points.
But teammates Vinny Prospal and Ruslan Fedotenko have struggled, and Tortorella has split St. Louis and Lecavalier occasionally to find combinations that better spread scoring.
"It's whatever I think is best for the team at that juncture of the game or that week or whatever it may be," Tortorella said. "You have to read your team daily."
"It's his decision," Lecavalier said. "But when he puts me with Marty, it's going unbelievable."
ALL-STAR TIME: All-Star reserves, picked by the NHL's operations department, will be announced Saturday. Lecavalier and St. Louis are believed locks.
A longer shot is defenseman Dan Boyle, who doesn't get the notice of his star-studded teammates but entered Thursday third in the East among defensemen with 34 points.
Tortorella said he hopes Boyle gets the recognition. Still, "I don't want him to travel. I want him to get some time off."
Tortorella, as he said, is "not a big All-Star guy. ... I don't mean it in a disrespectful way. My focus is the team I'm coaching."
He also bemoaned that players are not in the selection process, "So I don't hold a hell of a lot of stock on who is on the All-Star team and who isn't. I don't think it's a true indication. I think peers, players themselves, have a much better indication of who plays well in this league.
"I know we probably have three or four of the best players in the league on this team right here in our core. It doesn't matter what other people think."
ODDS AND ENDS: Springfield goalie Karri Ramo was named to the AHL All-Star team. ... Defenseman Luke Richardson was a healthy scratch. .. Defenseman Nolan Pratt played his 500th NHL game. ... Center Andreas Karlsson and his wife, Monique, named their first child, born Sunday, Maddox Faith.