Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund's injury needs "aggressive" treatment
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund was limping noticeably through the Lightning locker room this morning with ice around his left ankle. Coach Rick Tocchet said Ohlund is getting "aggressive" treatment for the injury, which Tocchet said has not required tests but is obviously more than just a bump.
Ohlund said he didn't know if he would be back on skates in two days five days or seven days. Ohlund was hurt in Thursday's game with the Maple Leafs when he hit the boards with Toronto's Christian Hanson. With Ohlund out, Andrej Meszaros has moved up to the top defensive pairing with Mike Lundin, who was so good Friday against Washington's Alex Ovechkin and gets another tough assignment tonight when he faces Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
Injuries have become notable for Tampa Bay as left wing Ryan Malone (upper body) will miss tonight's game with the Penguins. Center Zenon Konopka (back) and David Hale (broken leg) began skating while the Lightning was away on last week's road trip. Konopka, who the team says has a mild disc herniation, said he does not know when he will return and is as frustrated as he ever has ben with an injury that was sustained while he trained over the Olympic break.
"If I push it to hard, which I like to do, I take a step back," he said. "And the way I play isn't overly conducive to coming back from a bad back. I haven't missed a lot of time with injuries. I play through most injuries, and the injuries I've had were at the start of the year or the end of the year. This missing games in the middle of the year is something weird. It's a mental battle too. It's nothing major but it's one of those things where it takes time. I'm not a very patient person, especially with these critical games."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Only about half the team participated. Players had the option of skating Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. ... No surprise, Antero Niittymaki will get the start in goal after his superb effort Friday against Washington. ... Speaking of the Capitals, is it just me or are you sick of reading how Washington had a "letdown" against Tampa Bay, or that Washington's goalie let in soft goals? Truthfully, after the first 10 minutes of the second period, the Lightning was in control of that game. How about this? Tampa Bay simply outplayed the Caps that night. ... Maybe this is too much of a stretch, but doesn't it seem the Lightning stopped backing down to the Capitals after Steve Downie stood up to Ovechkin in Tampa Bay's 7-4 win on Jan. 12? Tocchet said it is plausible. "I wasn't too happy with the way we played Washington last year," Tocchet said. "It was like we got sand kicked in the face from the bully all the time, and we took it. The game in here when Downie and Ovechkin went at it all night, yeah, I can see that as a stepping stone. It changed the attitude for us." ... We had a story in the paper earlier in the season about how Mike Lundin plays so well against the top players in the league. He did it again Friday against Ovechkin, and gets another tough assignment today with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. How has Lundin made such a huge leap in one year? "The biggest knock on him was we needed him to be more aggressive," Tocchet said. "He's not going to be running guys, but he an be aggressive and getting in front of people's faces and taking pucks off guys. Some of the best defensemen in the league are like that. Nick Lidstrom, he's not going to kill you but he's always in front of you knocking pucks away from you. That was the aggressiveness we were looking for." ... Downie continues to impress, not just with his offense but with the way he controls his anger. It was a small moment in Friday's game with the Capitals when Downie was blasted by Washington's Shaone Morrisonn and ended up with a bloody nose. "The old Steve Downie, I don't know, he would have did something stupid. He was calm. It's maturity. 'It's not the right time.' And he played really well after that, too. The right time came was when Downie jumped into a fray Thursday against Toronto's Dion Phaneuf, who took a poke at Steven Stamkos. ... And finally this from Tocchet about today's game with the Penguins, "This is a playoff game for us."