Tampa Bay Lightning G Mike Smith to the doctor for evaluation; Ellis says he's ready
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith left the St. Pete Times Forum without talking to reporters about his injured left knee. He was on his way to the doctor for more evaluation. Smith was hurt during Monday's morning skate when, apparently, left wing Simon Gagne, rounding the net, clipped Smith's left skate which twisted Smith's knee. Smith was supposed to start Monday against the Hurricanes, but his status is uncertain. Dan Ellis said he is ready if needed.
One of the more interesting aspects of this is the call-up of goalie Cedrick Desjardins from AHL Norfolk. The call-up had been planned for a month and a half, coach Lightning coach Guy Boucher said and coincides with a week off for the Admirals. Boucher said the plan was to get Desjardins some exposure to the NHL and some intensive work with goaltenders coach Frantz Jean. Now, depending on how things play out, Desjardins, in his first day ever in the NHL, might be on the bench.
"Sometimes it happens when you least expect it," Desjardins said.
Desjardins has been good for Norfolk with a 12-5-1 record, a 2.63 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. It is his first call-up to the NHL.
"It's a dream come true for me," Desjardins said. "I worked hard to be here and I want to enjoy every second of it and stay here for the longest time possible."
We'll see how Smith is before putting any timetables on Desjardins return. But the original plan was not even to have him play
"If Smith is injured it might be an opportunity somewhere in there to give (Desjardins) a game," Boucher said. "But right now I don't want to think Smith is injured. He was doing well. The team was doing well with him in net. It would be real sad for him."
As for Gagne, he said he did not realize he might have clipped Smith.
"I don't know," Gagne said. "If I touched him, maybe I touched him a little bit. I'm not sure. I hope it's not too bad."
Boucher said if Smith checks out okay, he will play against Carolina. But is the guy under a cloud or what? He's playing lights out to start 2008-09 and then gets a concussion when run over by then-teammate Vinny Prospal and misses the rest of the season. He is working his way back last season and gets run over by Washington's Brooks Laich and misses significant time with a neck injury, and now this just when he had strung together two straight god games.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Boucher, as much of a details guy as you can get, said Tampa Bay's league-worst seven shorthanded goals allowed, including six in 13 home games, "is driving me crazy." He said it's about attention to details. "Most of the time they will come off faceoffs because you want to press to keep the puck in," he said. "Because you press too much, the other team takes off and whoops. It's details but it's also attitude. I've seen it every year and with every team. When you're on the power play you're thinking score. When the other team has the puck you're not thinking defense you're thinking just give it back so we can attack, which is the wrong way to see things." ... On the upside, the Lightning is 4-1-1 in games in which it allowed a shorthanded goal. ... Tampa Bay also is the only NHL team without a shorthanded goal. Dana Tyrell missed two breakaway chances on Saturday against the Sabres to get one. Sounds like the same problem with shootouts. "It's our great breakaway team that's having a problem," Boucher said. ... Forward Mattias Ritola said he still has not had an attack of Meniere's disease since being put on new medication. He even has new ear plugs he hopes will stop the attacks on Tuesday's flight to New York for a two-game road trip. Flying has exacerbated the problem in the past. ... The Hurricanes, winners of four straight, are benefitting from good goaltending from Cam Ward and a seemingly heating up Eric Staal, who has four goals and five points in his past three games. "And everyone knows if Staal is playing well the whole team follows," Boucher said. Staal has 25 goals and 44 points in 41 career games against the Lightning.