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Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith "progressing," Dustin Tokarski waiting



So, there was Mike Smith Wednesday, walking down the hallway outside the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room at the St. Pete Times Forum. Wasn't sure whether that was a smile or a smirk on his face, but either way the goaltender declined, with an apology to talk about the injury he sustained in Tuesday's game with the Capitals when defenseman Brooks Laich ran over him in the first period.

In fact, he said he is "not allowed" to talk about it.

Officially, Smith, who took himself out of the game 6:36 into the second period, has a neck strain and is day-to-day. The team said he is "progressing." But since he did not practice Wednesday, he has to be considered iffy for Thursday's game with the Panthers. If Smith cannot go, expect Dustin Tokarski to be called up from AHL Norfolk. And if that is the case, it would make sense to believe the Lightning does not think Smith's injury is not going to be long-term as it makes no sense to bring Tokarski up and have him sit the majority of the time as a backup to Antero Niittymaki. 

Tokarski, 22, is being groomed, and he needs to play. He is 11-13-0 in 24 games with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage for the Admirals.

As for Smith, give him some credit for taking himself out of the game. It was his insistence on playing last season after his Dec. 2 concussion, and not telling the team about his symptoms until Jan. 30, that made his recovery from post-concussion even longer.

[Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2010 12:15am]


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