Tampa Bay Lightning begins the three-goalie era while watching the status of an injured fourth
It is going to be interesting to see how Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman handles having three healthy goaltenders on the roster. With Mike Smith back from a two-game conditioning stint with AHL Norfolk, the situation finally has gotten acute, and in tonight's game with the Flyers, Dwayne Roloson will start with Dan Ellis on the bench and Smith a healthy scratch. Roloson is expected to start Friday against the Capitals. Who will be the backup is the question.
Yzerman has a couple of options. He all but admitted he has been working the phones to see if he can make a trade -- "I'm talking to teams every day, exploring options to see who has an interest or a need," he said -- though if that falls through, he could send either Smith or Ellis back to Norfolk.
"That's an option," Yzerman said. "Ideally we want our guys playing. It doesn't do any of the guys any good to sit here week after week of not playing."
And that is where the fourth goalie comes in. Cedrick Desjardins who has not played since Jan. 16, when he sustained a right-shoulder injury during a collision with a Charlotte player. An MRI apparently showed enough damage that Desjardins is in Tampa to consult with the Lightning's doctors. Yzerman said the organization will decide on a course of action tonight or on Wednesday. If Desjardins is out for an extended period, it would give the team an even more urgent reason to perhaps send Smith or Ellis down if a deal cannot be made.
Ellis said he understands the possibilities.
"It's a real possibility," he said of a transaction. "But you can scenario yourself to death. It's easy to say this could happen or this could happen, but it rests in their hands. I'd rather let Steve (Yzerman) and coach (Guy Boucher) wrestle with those things."
So, for now, it's status quo. As Yzerman said, "It's just in a holding pattern for the time being. I'm just going to monitor the situation."
So, how does Boucher handle it?
"I want to make it not awkward," he said. "For me, it's always about making it as honest as possible without losing anybody. I've always dealt with things this way. If it's going to be a certain goalie that's going to play, he's going to know and the other goalies will know and they will have to share whatever is left."
Boucher added that, "I think right now, probably the biggest shock, we're past that. We've had time to absorb the fact that we're three and Roloson has got a No. 1 kind of background, so everybody understands the situation."
It certainly sounds as if they do.
"If you start to take things personally and worry about yourself ... it ultimately is a team game," Ellis said. "It's about the team. When you start to take away from that, what's the sense of getting all upset and hurting the team. If you're all of a sudden worried about your stats and game, it takes away from it. It's about being a team player. You have to put everything selfish aside. That has to be your main goal."
Said Smith: "It's not strange at all anymore. I'm done answering questions about the three goalies. It is what it is. Whenever I get an opportunity to play, take advantage of that opportunity. Whenever I get a chance, I'm just going to be ready to go."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Wing Ryan Malone (mid-body injury) skated for the first time since being hurt Jan. 21 against the Panthers. Originally Malone said he hoped to be ready for tonight's game against the Flyers, but the recovery has gone slowly. Malone said he did have a good off-ice workout on Monday but still felt uncomfortable on skates. ... Boucher said defensemen Mike Lundin (mid-body injury) and Mattias Ohlund knee) are game-time decisions, but both reiterated they will play. Ohlund, you recall, was hit with a puck on the inside of his left knee in the Jan. 25 game with the Maple Leafs. Boucher said an MRI exam was negative and that Ohlund had fluid drained from the knee. But Ohlund said he is feeling better every day and will play. ... When forward Mattias Ritola was scratched at the last minute from the game with Toronto, it was said he felt ill. Ritola said Tuesday he had an attack from his Meniere's disease which had been controlled for a while with a combination of medication and earplugs that mitigated the pressure he feels during plane flight which he has said helps trigger attacks. Ritola, who estimated he hadn't had an attack since mid December, said he might have been dehydrated from riding a stationary bike for 20 minutes in the sauna (a fitness technique used by the team). And while dehydration can trigger an attack, that exercise apparently was a week before the attack occur ed, the team said. Whether that was the cause or not, Ritola said, "I'm not doing that again." ... Boucher called the Flyers a "scary" good team. "They may have more depth than anybody," he added. ... What will Steven Stamkos remember most about his first All-Star Game? Scoring a goal, I guess," he said. "That was pretty cool." ... To break up the monotony of its 12-game homestand, the Lightning this month could hold a practice or two in Estero. Makes sense as the team has an ECHL affiliate there it shares with the Hurricanes.