Ranger done for the season
That's not official only in that defenseman Paul Ranger will go for an MRI when the team returns from a three-game road trip after Saturday's game with the Panthers. But trainer Tommy Mulligan said Ranger will need at least two weeks to recover from a subluxation of his left shoulder sustained in the third period of Wednesday's meltdown against the Sabres when he was checked into the glass by Daniel Paille. And with generally two weeks left in the season, it is realistic Ranger will probably sit.
Whether he needs surgery will be determined by the MRI. If the shoulder ligaments simply stretch and are not torn, rehab should do the trick.
Ranger said the blow from Paille wasn't anything unusual and he did not hit the glass with any force greater than what he experienced before. "So I don't know if it was the force of him hitting me or me going into the boards, I don't know,'' Ranger said.
Asked if this late in the season it matters that he likely will miss the team's final nine games, Ranger said, "Of course it matters. I'm still a hockey player. I know we're out of the playoffs, but there are still some games left to bond with the guys and play with the guys and play to win. As much as we're out of the playoffs, you still want to play and you still want to win. We want to prepare ourselves for next year and better ourselves as players.''
Doesn't seem as if the Lightning will make any moves to fill Ranger's spot, especially with Doug Janik and Mike Lundin being healthy scratches. Tampa Bay had spoken about perhaps getting a look at Vladimir Mihalik from AHL Norfolk, but the Lightning has used it's four call-ups alowed after the trade deadline on Alex Picard, Karl Stewart, Matt Smaby and Junior Lessard. The four call-up rule is in place so NHL teams don't raid the AHL franchises.
Tampa Bay could call up Mihalik on an emergency basis, but right now that doesn't seem likely.
You saw history: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Buffalo's 7-4 victory Wednesday in which the Sabres scored six unanswered goals in 14:51 was only the fifth time in NHL history a team won a game by three or more after trailing by at least three in the third period. The last time was Feb. 1, 1989, when the Blackhawks beat the old Jets 7-4.
Other stuff from this morning: Goaltender Karri Ramo said he will try to shake off Wednesday's third period in which he gave up five goals on 15 shots. He said he believes he was trying to do too much while making saves, which took himself out of the position "instead of letting the puck come to me.'' ... No surprise Mike Smith starts in goal tonight. ... Wing Jason Ward, who was benched in the third period and hasn't played more than 8:04 in his past eight games, will be a healthy scratch. "He's playing himself right off the team with some of the decision-making he's making,'' coach John Tortorella said. ... Said Ward: "I just got to keep working hard and that's all I can do.'' ... With center Jeff Halpern's back hurting to the point he cannot take faceoffs, more faceoff duty has fallen to Vinny Lecavalier, who was only 40 percent (10-for-25) against the Sabres. Lecavalier has won 48.4 percent of draws all season. Fifty percent is considered good. "Sometimes I've got to focus more on it,'' Lecavalier said. "You want to have the puck as much as you can. if you lose every faceoff, you're always starting chasing and that gets you more tired.'' ... With Ward out, coach John Tortorella said he will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight. That means Janik, a healthy scratch the past five games, will be back in the lineup, though Tortorella said he would spot the speed-skating Janik at forward. ... Tortorella said Smaby, in his first game since his call-up from Norfolk, played pretty well in 12:17 of ice time. He said Smaby kept up with the speed of the game, but now has to work on his decision making. ... The Lightning has lost 20 games this season, 14 in regulation, in which it has entered the third period either tied or with a lead. ... Wouldn't it have been nice for players such as defensemen Dan Boyle, Filip Kuba and Shane O'Brien to step up and calm things down in the third period after Ranger was hurt? ... Is it just me or is Picard about to blow past O'Brien on the depth chart?