Tampa Bay Lightning, its defense banged up, calls up Matt Lashoff from AHL Norfolk
With just five healthy defensemen after rookie Victor Hedman sustained a hip flexor injury Tuesday against the Blue Jackets, the Tampa Bay Lightning called up defenseman Matt Lashoff from AHL Norfolk.
The injury list is long: Hedman, Matt Walker (lower body), Matt Smaby (back spasms), David Hale, (ankle). And it makes sense Lashoff gets the call for tonight's game with the Penguins as he can skate and has some ability to move the puck. He had seven assists in 12 games last season for the Lightning after he was acquired from the Bruins in the Mark Recchi deal. He has six goals, 23 points and 94 penalty minutes in 66 games this season with Norfolk.
As for Hedman, who did not speak to reporters after Tuesday's game, he said Wednesday that he was hurt in the first period, but was too uncomfortable to play the second or third. He was walking awkwardly.
"I hope I can play Friday," he said of the game with the Rangers at the St. Pete Times Forum. "Day-to-day. Like I said, hopefully it's going to get better here."
Other stuff from the morning skate: The Lightning will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with a regulation loss. ... Penguins star Sidney Crosby reiterated he did not like the way Lightning right wing Steve Downie took him down the last time the teams met at the Times Forum. If you recall, the players tangled up and Crosby fell awkwardly with his right leg pinned under Downie. Crosby yelled out in pain, but played the rest of the game. "I didn't like it," Crosby said Wednesday. "I don't think there's any reason for his leg to be behind me like that. Once you fall, that's hockey, you can fall awkwardly and stuff like that. But to put me in that position by having his leg behind my knee, no." Downie said he had forgotten about the play and also reiterated he was up to nothing malicious, even though teammate Steven Stamkos had been drilled with a tough but clean check moments earlier from Brooks Orpik. "It's old news," Downie said. "I was trying to slow the best player down. I was trying to get in his way a little bit. That's it. It's unfortunate he fell the wrong way." ... Stamkos has just three goals in his past 10 games, and coach Rick Tocchet said he believes his star center is pressing to get to 50 goals. Stamkos' 45 is third in the league behind Crosby (47) and Alex Ovechkin (46). "The last game he was trying to be too fine," Tocchet said. "He's not hitting the net like he was in the past. I think he's pressed a little bit." Tocchet said he will try to play Stamkos more with Marty St. Louis against the Penguins. St. Louis has played the last little while on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell. "I think that will help him," Tocchet said of Stamkos. But Stamkos said he is not paying attention to the goal-scoring race or reaching 50 goals. "That's just more pressure," he said. "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. things haven't gone that well lately goal-wise. But we'll see. We have six games left." Stamkos actually said he is a bit uncomfortable talking about a personal goal. "I'd rather be in the playoff mix and talk to you about making the playoffs. But there isn't much more to talk about." ... Tocchet said Purcell likely will be scratched. Purcell, acquired from the Kings at the trade deadline for Jeff Halpern, has just five shots in his past three games, and has been a bit light on the puck. ... Left wing Ryan Malone will not play tonight and miss skating one last time at Mellon Arena, a tough blow for the Pittsburgh native and former Penguins player who has missed 10 straight games after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. "Obviously, I wish I was playing, but I think it's better just to rest everything right now and get back in shape," Malone said. Asked if he lobbied to play, Malone said, "No, it seems like they put me through the (morning) skate without any questions. I don't know if they wanted to give me that opportunity. A couple good skates now the past couple of days. It's just unfortunate."