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Ranger likely out of European games



Never, ever go crosstown into the heart of Manhattan's theater district just as people are lining up to see some shows. An hour from  the Lincoln Tunnel to the team hotel. Brutal.

Anyway, coach Barry Melrose said he was not counting on Paul Ranger to play in the games Oct. 4 and 5 against the Rangers in Prague. That's a tough one for Tampa Bay in the short term as Ranger is the Lightning's most experienced blue-liner after Andrej Meszaros. No real setbacks to report, said the team. And even though Ranger's right shoulder surgery was to repair a torn labrum, same as Vinny Lecavalier, Ranger's injury was long-term and degenerative. Lecavalier's was acute, happening in a moment of a game. That means Ranger apparently will take longer to heal than Vinny. So don't be surprised if Ranger goes on injured reserve, which means he must miss at least seven days.

As we have explained before, that is not a terrible scenario. The Lightning plays just seven games in 26 days after returning from Europe, so keeping Ranger out does not sacrifice much of the season. The same equation will guide whether Lecavalier is held out or put on IR. But Melrose said it seems as if he is counting on Lecavalier playing.

Lecavalier is scheduled to play his first exhibition Sunday in Berlin.

"I want to get it out of the way," he said. "I want to get hit. I want to start using my instincts and playing like I usually do, and not just think about my shoulder."

Even so, Lecavalier said if he doesn't respond well in Berlin and Slovakia, he has no problem sitting out or even going on IR.

"Better to be safe and wait a week or two than forcing it and something happens and I'm out for six months," Lecavalier said. "But it feels pretty good right now. I'm confident I'll play in that first game."

In other news: The Lightning did not release the lineup for Thursday's game against the Rangers at MSG. ... Why was the Lightning outshot 40-18 Tuesday against New York? "We were weak on the puck," Melrose said. "I can think of 10  times right now when we had the puck and gave it up and they got shots out of it. But that's an area we can clean up very, very easily."

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


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