Decision soon on defenseman Ranger
It will probably be another couple of days before we know, but it sounds like the Lightning is serious about shutting down defenseman Paul Ranger for the rest of the season. Ranger has missed the past three games with an upper body injury that, apparently, is not related to the shoulder problems that forced him out of eight games earlier in the season.
Tampa Bay has 26 games left entering tonight's with the Blackhawks and, considering it is 15 points out of the playoffs, it makes sense to get Ranger healed up and ready for next season. It is unclear if Ranger will needs surgery on whatever is bothering him, but that can certainly be inferred by what Rick Tocchet said after Tuesday's morning skate.
"It's settling down," Tocchet said of the injury, "but there has to be some decisions made on him. He's a young guy with a lot of hockey left. We have to sit down and figure out what we're going to do with him. Do we continue with this path or shut him down and get him fixed up."
Asked when that decision will be made, Tocchet said, "Sooner rather than later. He's a quality kid. We'll do what's best for him."
If Ranger has surgery, it will be the second straight offseason he will deal with rehab. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder last year similar to Vinny Lecavalier, though it was more for a long-term problem than an acute injury.
Ranger, as per team policy, declined, apologetically, for not being able to speak about his situation except to say it "(stinks)" to watch.
Other stuff from this morning: The Lightning recalled defenseman Ty Wishart from AHL Norfolk on an emergency basis because of the injury to Marek Malik sustained Saturday against the Capitals. Coach Rick Tocchet said the injury is a "continuation" of the problem in Malik's right ankle that recently kept him out of nine games. He is day to day. ... Goalie Mike Smith skated for the second straight day, without pads and with a forward's stick he used to pass the puck and shoot. ... As expected, Karri Ramo gets the start in net. ... Right wing Evgeni Artyukhin will be scratched. Coach Rick Tocchet said the big Russian's game has slipped since his two-game suspension Jan 19 and 21. "Maybe this will get him going again," Tocchet said of the scratch. "We need more from him away from the puck, his awareness and things like that." Tocchet had voiced concern at the time of Artyukhin's suspension that it would make Artyukhin tentative. Artyukhin said perhaps it had. "Maybe I've lost something," he said. Tocchet's final message to Artyukhin: "It's unfortunate he had a suspension, but just go play. Don't worry about the referees." ... Left wing David Koci also will be scratched. ... Noticed Vinny Prospal lately? The left wing has zero goals his past six games and minus-9 in his past eight. "It's like I said, I've been around for some time and stuff like this happens, and I've got to come through it somehow. Maybe if I didn't hit the goal post last game and that rebound went in, it would be a different story now." ... Tocchet continued to sing the praises of defenseman Steve Eminger while also admitting his game has dipped "the last couple of games because we've played him so much the last little while. But the last two months, and his consistency, his value to the team has been great. He's probably been out best defenseman game-in and game-out the past two months." Saturday's game against the Capitals was the first in which Eminger played fewer than 25 minutes since Feb. 3 against the Islanders.