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Father Len blesses new ice at Amalie

Father Len Plazewski, pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in South Tampa and Lightning fan from the beginning, blessed the new sheet of ice Monday at Amalie Arena.

“It’s pretty cool,” Lightning goalie Ben Bishop said Tuesday morning. “Hopefully it brings some good luck.”

“That’s a good idea,” forward Brian Boyle added. “Keep everyone safe.”

Father Len, who grew up in Pasco County and attended Jesuit High, has been a Lightning season ticket holder since Day 1.

He recently blessed the Florida Hospital Center Ice rink in Wesley Chapel and was invited to do the same at Amalie Arena when the new sheet of ice was laid after the circus left town.

Father Len said he worked from the Church’s “The Book of Blessings,” using one geared toward athletic fields.

“Obviously, we don’t want God to play favorites,” he said. “We want to win, but we pray for the safety of the players, that they compete well, that be kept free from injury and harm. That they show good sportsmanship. I kind of threw in there, ‘God, we’d be more appreciate if we have more goals scored on that side (pointing to net Lightning shoot at during the first and third periods) than this side.’”  …

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Lightning Strikes! podcast: Crucial home stand starts with Bruins

Brian Boyle barks at Boston's Jimmy Hayes during a game in March in Tampa.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Brian Boyle barks at Boston's Jimmy Hayes during a game in March in Tampa.

Joe Smith sets up the second half of the season, including a critical home stand beginning against the Boston Bruins, in our latest Lightning Strikes! podcast. Will the Nikita Nesterov trade be the start of more deals before the March deadline? Joe also talks about injury updates, the NHL All-Star Game and more.

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Point may return tonight as Lightning return after All-Star Break

Brayden Point has not played since fracturing a bone in his right hand Dec. 28 against the Canadiens.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Brayden Point has not played since fracturing a bone in his right hand Dec. 28 against the Canadiens.

The Lightning return to the ice tonight after the All-Star Break and the face the visiting Bruins, who are in third place in the Atlantic Division, six points ahead of the sixth-place Lightning.

Brayden Point, who has not played since fracturing a bone in his right hand Dec. 28 against the Canadiens, skated again this morning without the red no-contact jersey. Neither Jon Cooper nor Point said if Point would be available tonight. It would appear Point will play given the fact he was on the power play and participated in line rushes during the morning skate.

The Lightning will certainly welcome Point back to the lineup.

“He’s got exceptional hockey sense, and he made us a better team,” Cooper said. “It’s not that one player makes a team, but he was a piece to our puzzle and was generating some success for us.”

Ben Bishop is in goal tonight, making his first start since Jan. 21 when he allowed five goals on 12 shots at Arizona.

Bishop said he’s rested, obviously, and feels he will be sharp despite the layoff.

Andrei Vasilevskiy played the next two games – a win at Chicago and an overtime loss at Sunrise, Fla., against the Panthers.  …

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Brayden Point not yet cleared to play

Lightning center Brayden Point was a full participant in Monday's practice, his first with contact since suffering a hand injury in late December.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Lightning center Brayden Point was a full participant in Monday's practice, his first with contact since suffering a hand injury in late December.

Lightning center Brayden Point was a full participant in Monday's practice, his first with contact since suffering a hand injury in late December.

"It's exciting to get back and work with the guys," Point said.

But while Point said he felt good - and certainly looked good - he has not yet been cleared to play, coach Jon Cooper said. So that means Point likely won't be back for Tuesday's game against the Bruins.

Cooper also said that forward Michael Bournival, who missed Thursday's game with an upper body injury, won't play Tuesday. There's no timetable on his return.

Forward Jonathan Drouin did not practice due to a flight delay, and All-Stars Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov were also traveling back from L.A. All three are expected to be available Tuesday.

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Jake Dotchin recalled by Lightning

Jake Dotchin played in three games on Tampa Bay's latest road trip and held his own.

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Jake Dotchin played in three games on Tampa Bay's latest road trip and held his own.

The Lightning recalled defenseman Jake Dotchin Monday.

With GM Steve Yzerman saying there's no other roster changes, that means that Slater Koekkoek will remain in AHL Syracuse.

Dotchin, 22, played in three games on Tampa Bay's latest road trip and held his own. With Nikita Nesterov getting traded to Montreal Thursday, is the seventh defenseman on the Lightning's roster. 

While some might have thought Nesterov's trade would open the door for Koekkoek, Yzerman has said there's no timetable for Koekkoek's return. Koekkoek has played 29 games for the Lightning this season, but 17 in Syracuse, where he's been since early January. …

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