TAMPA — For nearly two weeks, rookie D Mark Barberio has sat well above ice level watching his teammates instead of playing alongside them.
Barberio has not played since logging 16-plus minutes of ice time filling in for injured D Sami Salo on opening night, Oct. 3 in Boston, while patiently waiting for his next opportunity to get into the lineup.
“You can sit here and say that experience is probably a little bit of (Barberio not getting in the lineup), but to get experience you have to play games and right now he is not getting into games,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And there is a difference between playing pro and playing in the NHL, and he just has to learn that, as everybody else does.”
It’s not a new situation for Barberio, who has gone through the same routine at each step, starting in juniors with Moncton and then into the American Hockey League and now the NHL.
With Moncton, Barberio worked his way into a top-two pairing and was a top point producer, finishing with 60 points in 65 games his final year as the Wildcats reached the Memorial Cup. Then, in his first year in the AHL under Cooper in Norfolk, he found a way into the lineup and by his second season was named the AHL Defenseman of the Year.
Having been down this path before, Barberio knows how to deal with the disappointment of not getting playing time.
“I think the way you do that is just by working hard in practice by making sure you’re sharp in practice, make sure your pass is always on the tape so you’re involved in some defensive zone drills, make sure you’re working hard so you don’t lose that game situation mentality,” Barberio said. “I’ve experienced this before, so I just have to make sure I stick with it, and if I do get a shot that I’m ready.”
It has been more than three years since RW Teddy Purcell was traded from Los Angeles to Tampa Bay, but facing his old team still has meaning for him.
“It would be nice to be able to beat your old team and old teammates, so I think that is always a little extra motivation, even though guys say it’s not,” Purcell said. “Even though things didn’t work out with them, I have a lot of good memories with them, my first NHL game, my first NHL goal is always exciting.”
In three seasons with the Kings, Purcell was in and out of the lineup and was a frequent healthy scratch, scoring eight goals and getting 17 assists in 91 games before being acquired by the Lightning on March 3, 2010. The 28-year-old has found a home with Tampa Bay, with 58 goals and 166 points in 235 games before Tuesday, in his fifth season with the Lightning.
Purcell added to his total Tuesday, picking up his first career goal against his former team to extend his scoring streak to five games.
Three of Tampa Bay’s centers — Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson and Nate Thompson — entered Tuesday with a faceoff winning percentage of at least 56 percent.
“That’s a great stat, but you have to make sure you are winning the important ones,” Cooper said.
As much of a luxury as it can be to have that success in the faceoff circle, Cooper would like to see it improve when shorthanded. On Saturday’s game-winning power-play goal by Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby won the draw from Filppula, allowing the Penguins to score with 19 seconds left.
Tampa Bay’s success winning faceoffs while shorthanded was 37.7 percent heading into Tuesday.
Nuts and Bolts
RW Marty St. Louis recorded his 900th career point in a Lightning uniform with a first-period assist. ... Tampa Bay has scored the first goal in all three games on the homestand after allowing the first goal in the season’s first three road games. ... D Andrej Sustr got his first career NHL point with a secondary assist on St. Louis’ second-period goal.