Injuries all of a sudden an issue for the Tampa Bay Lightning, though St. Louis will play
The Tampa Bay Lightning's injury report grew substantially before Tuesday's game with the Canadiens as center Zenon Konopka was listed out for at least a week with back spasms that have bothered him off and on, and left wing Ryan Malone is questionable with an upper-body injury that coach Rick Tocchet said has been a lingering thing. As for Marty St. Louis, the left wing is expected to play, or at least evaluate how he feels during warmups and in his first shifts.
St. Louis said he was not diagnosed with a concussion from the back of his head hitting the end boards Saturday after he was hit, without the puck by Atlanta's Clarke MacArthur. He said he missed Monday's practice as a precaution. He rode the stationary bike and took a neurological test he said was normal. He skated in Tuesday's morning workout and said he has no ill effects.
"The fact of the matter is I had no balance for 45 seconds (Saturday), so you have to address it in the right way," St. Louis said. "I think we did that. I pushed myself on the (stationary) bike and got my heart rate up over 175 and felt fine. ... The only difference now is you have to put your mind into a game. If I don't feel my mind is in the right place, only game experience can make you get a fair assessment of how you feel. I don't want to hurt myself trying to help the team, either. I'm going to give it a try and see how I feel. I'm positive I'm going to feel fine."
St. Louis, fifth in the league with 78 points, said the whole situation was scary.
"The back of my head hit the board, and back there is your vision and balance, and both were pretty shaky at the time," St. Louis said. "I was aware. I was trying to get out of the way of the scrum and had a tough time putting my foot in front of the other. But once I skated off the ice, it was me skating myself. I had full balance and everything. It probably took about a minute or so to get back to normal. I didn't have light legs or was light-headed heading off the ice. I was aware of everything. ... Was it a scary moment? Absolutely, when you're there on the ice and can't put one foot in front and your family is in the stands. It's hard. It's part of the game."
Asked about the current debate at the GM meetings about what to do with head shots, St. Louis wanted it clear he did not believe MacArthur's hit on him was a head shot. That said, about head shots, he added, "There's no room for that in the game, especially with the speed of the game now and the amount of head injuries we've had this year alone. They're suspending guys, but repeat offenders have to be suspended even more. It's the only way you can police it. Maybe take the instigator rule out. Then those guys know there will be somebody coming after them. It's important. Guys are missing games because of head injuries, and the head is pretty important for life after hockey. You can get your knees redone and shoulders and stuff, but the head is a hard one. You have to be even more strict as to how you're going to make guys pay for their actions."
Other stuff from the morning skate: So, we finally know that defenseman Kurtis Foster is not the only Lightning player who can shatter a pane of glass. Center Steven Stamkos shattered, on consecutive shots, two panes that were right next to each other behind a net during the morning skate at the Bell Centre. "I've never done anything like that before," Stamkos said. "I was working on the one-timer and missed the net and broke two pieces of glass." The funny part was the way the rest of the players immediately began taking shots at the two shattered pieces of glass that were not completely broken and were still standing in their grooves. Shot after shot hit the glass, and glass kept crumbling onto the ice, but the panes would not fall. "The 7-year-old kids in every one of us came out," Stamkos said. Said Tocchet: "It was like angry sharks, man. We were waiting for the closer, Fozzie." That would be Foster, who has broken four panes of glass during games this season. But Foster was not part of the frenzy of shots at the glass. ... What does the Lightning lose without Konopka? "Leadership, obviously toughness," Tocchet said. "He's probably our best guy on the bench, keeping guys alive. It's a big hole. He's a big part of our team." ... Want to know why the Lightning is fighting for a playoff spot rather than in the top eight? A