Defense is down, Smith still out
GM Brian Lawton said on Saturday that Smith should be on the ice either Sunday OR Monday. So, there is nothing yet to be read into the fact that Smith did not practice Sunday at the Ice Sports Forum. More concerning perhaps is that four of the Lightning's top defensemen took the day off for what the team termed "body maintenance."
Paul Ranger, Lukas Krajicek, Steve Eminger and Matt Smaby did not skate while nursing some aches and pains and since the team, with Andrej Meszaros out, skated, basically, five defensemen Saturday against the Islanders.
Eminger played 27 minutes; Ranger, who has been banged up, played almost 23; Krajicek played more than 24; and Smaby, also banged up, played almost 20. The key moment will come Monday, though, when he we see who skates and who doesn't. As coach Rick Tocchet said, you can go with five defensemen for a game or two, but after a while, it's like a dam getting ready to burst.
Right wing Mark Recchi also had the day off. Wade Brookbank, acquired Saturday in the Jussi Jokinen trade, did not make it to practice, and the team said there is no decision yet as to where he finally will play.
Spoke more to goalie Mike McKenna, who shut out the Islanders in his second NHL start. An interesting guy. Will have a nice story on him for tomorrow's paper. Some highlights, though, include his dad, Terry, winning a major national amateur auto racing title back in 1982. McKenna being a huge fan of Scandinavian death metal. McKenna graduated from St. Lawrence University with a degree in economics and, he believes, a 3.2 grade-point average. He is a fan of non-fiction books and is currently reading about the old west. Part of that interest is fueled by girlfriend Rachel Lindstrand, who McKenna said is one-eighth Mohawk-Cayuga Indian. The best class he took in college? Stage craft, which helped when he and his dad built a wood bar for the basement of McKenna's home in St. Louis.