Nothing new on unseen goalie Smith
The Lightning had nothing new to offer on goaltender Mike Smith who was not seen at Saturday's morning skate and has not addressed reporters since being pulled from a Jan. 30 game against the Flyers and coming down with a mysterious upper-body injury that no one wants to divulge.
Coach Rick Tocchet offered some glimmers of information. But with the team under orders from general manager Brian Lawton not to divulge too much about injuries, the information is sketchy and sometimes inconsistent.
For example: Tocchet said he originally was told about Smith's injury as long as six weeks ago. That is consistent with what we have been told; that it is something Smith has been dealing with for a while. Still, Tocchet said when he was told after the Flyers game that Smith was hurt bad enough to miss time, "It hit me like a bombshell."
Asked if he knew exactly how the injury happened, Tocchet said no. Asked if he knew if it was something that could linger, he said, "I don't know. I really don't know. I wish I could give you an answer. I really don't know."
There is a sentiment Smith could be ready "soon." Then again, Lawton had said Smith had a chance to be ready for tonight's game with the Islanders.
Asked what the big secret is about Smith's injury, Tocchet said the team still is trying to pinpoint exactly what it is. That seems odd, doesn't it, after such an extended period of time?
It is obvious everybody is dancing around this issue because of the team's policy. But it is getting almost comical, and it puts Tocchet, the training staff and the player in a tough spot. They're friendly guys. They want to talk, but they can't. So we are left with sketchy pieces of information that lead to speculation Smith hurt himself throwing a tantrum, smashing water bottles and sticks after he was pulled from the Flyers game, something the team has said had no bearing on the injury.
As for Smith, didn't see him in the locker room after the morning skate. If you read this morning's story about the lengths to which he went Friday not to speak to reporters, you already know he is a master of disguise.
Other stuff from this morning: As expected Mike McKenna gets his second straight start in net. Despite falling 4-3 to the Penguins on Wednesday in a game in which Pittsburgh scored three times in the third period to overcome a 3-0 deficit, McKenna has gotten lots of praise from the Lightning coaches. Goaltenders coach Cap Raeder said he liked what he saw in Pittsburgh. "The most impressive thing I found was when it got to be 3-3 because, with his body language, you would never have known it," Raeder said. "There wasn't one change in his body language, and then in overtime, he made three or four real good saves. He never wavered. To me, that's a good sign." ... Forwards Matt Pettinger and Ryan Craig are back in after being healthy scratches against Pittsburgh. Left wing Adam Hall is scratched against the Islanders. ... Rookie Steven Stamkos, who has been on a steady diet of three games playing and one game scratched, will play his fourth straight game tonight. Tocchet said Stamkos likely will get back on the three-and-one schedule, but Stamkos showed some speed Wednesday at Pittsburgh. "We need some speed tonight," Tocchet said. "It hasn't interrupted what we're trying to do off the ice with him." ... Looks like defenseman Andrej Meszaros will miss tonight's game with that upper left arm injury sustained against the Penguins. It will be the first game Meszaros will miss in his NHL career. He has played in 298 consecutive games. Tocchet said there is no set timetable for his return. "It will be more day to day,what he can put up with in pain," he said. "Obviously, he showed us he can put up with pain when he got hit with the puck," and took 64 stitches in the face in a Jan. 3 game against the Hurricanes.