AROUND THE RINKS: Boucher Out as Lightning Coach
The Tampa Bay Lightning began the season with a 6-1-0 record and found themselves atop the Southeast Division in early February. They have since lost 17-of-24 games to drop to 14th place in the Eastern Conference. On Sunday head coach Guy Boucher paid the price.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced early Sunday morning that Boucher has been relieved of his head coaching duties after posting a 13-17-1 record this season.
"Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done," Yzerman said in a statement.
"But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise."
Yzerman also said that assistant coaches Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share the coaching responsibilities for Sunday’s game against the Southeast Division leading Winnipeg Jets. Tampa Bay trails Winnipeg by seven points with one game in hand.
Boucher leaves with a regular-season coaching record of 96-78-20 with Tampa Bay. He also led the Lightning to Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins 1-0 in the decisive game at TD Garden.
Boucher was also behind the Lightning bench when Tampa Bay swept the Capitals in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
HALPERN RETURNS TO MONTREAL:
Former Capitals captain Jeff Halpern was claimed off waivers Saturday by the Montreal Canadiens and the 36-year-old could be in the Montreal lineup as early as Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Halpern signed with the New York Rangers last summer and had one assist in 30 games this season.
The Potomac, MD, native appeared in 72 games with Montreal during the 2010-11 season, notching 11 goals and 26 points. In 891 career NHL games, Halpern has 146 goals and 359 points.
With three games remaining in the ECHL regular season, the Reading Royals have already clinched the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Capitals’ ECHL affiliate enters play Sunday on a season-high seven-game winning streak and with a 46-15-3-3 record.
Prospect Stanislav Galiev is having his best month of his pro career with five goals and 11 points in ten games in March (Reading is 9-1-0 over that stretch).
The ECHL regular-season ends next Sunday.