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February

So, here is what we know about the Lightning's goaltending situation, and a little bit of what we don't know.

* We don't know how Mike Smith was injured. When Smith was pulled from Friday's game with the Flyers, he spent some time beating a water bottle to death, breaking his stick and knocking over a cart in the hallway leading to the locker room? Was Smith hurt during the outburst? We'll have to wait and ask him. Anyway, Smith did not fly with the team to Long Island for Tuesday's game with the Islanders in order to have some treatment in Tampa for an undisclosed upper-body injury. He could make it to Long Island today, general manager Brian Lawton said, adding Smith "probably" won't be able to play. If not, Mike McKenna and Karri Ramo will suit up.

* If Smith can't play, we're not sure who will start. McKenna, signed to an NHL contract Monday off Norfolk's roster, has the better stats than Ramo --11-10-1 in 24 games with a 2.97 goals-against average, one shutout and a .904 save percentage. But does Tampa Bay really want to throw him into the fire right away? Coach Rick Tocchet said, "He's been playing well (in Norfolk). I have no problems throwing him in there."

* Ramo was sent down to Norfolk in order to serve his six-game AHL suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation. That suspension was supposed to be over Feb. 8, so by being with the Lightning, he still has three games to go. But Tampa Bay could not leave Riku Helenius as the backup if Smith was not going to be playing, so Ramo starts his fifth tour with the team this season.

* While there is no written rule, the NHL usually tries to honor AHL suspensions, Lawton said. So in order for Ramo to suit up, Lawton said he had to discuss the extraordinary circumstances with the NHL -- Olie Kolzig being out as well --  and basically get its blessing so Ramo could be with the team.

* Helenius was sent down to Norfolk. This is where the Lightning wanted him anyway at this point. With Ramo suspended, the team wanted to see Helenius play several games with the Admirals to get a sense of what the 20-year-old has to offer.

* Lawton said he looked into getting a veteran goalie of re-entry waivers but was unsuccessful. He did not reveal any names but it is believed he had interest in Vancouver's Curtis Sanford and Edmonton's Dany Sabourin.

"Just another weekend with the Lightning," Lawton deadpanned.

There is much more in the story that will be in Tuesday's paper. Maybe Smith will be here Tuesday as well and we can get some clarification on how he was injured.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]

    

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