Tampa Bay Lightning LW Ryan Malone might be out 3-4 weeks, coach Boucher says
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone might be out three to four weeks with an undisclosed lower-body injury, meaning he could miss as many as 14 games, coach Guy Boucher said. Previously, the team said Malone, who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Sunday, was day-to-day.
"It's going to be tough missing him," Boucher said. "Other guys will have to step up. We've had a young kid we've been meaning to bring up and now we have the opportunity to do so."
Boucher was referring to Richard Panik (pronounced PAH-nik), who had 21 goals, 35 points in 43 games for AHL Syracuse.
"A huge opportunity for me," said Panik, who turned 22 on Feb. 7.
But the immediate concern was for Malone. The injury occurred Sunday before the game with the Rangers as players were going through their usual pregame soccer kick-around. Malone said the pregame "activation" aggravated something that had been lingering. Perhaps, but the bottom line is Malone was hurt "trying to kick a soccer ball."
"It was just kind of a weird instance," Malone said. "It's disappointing. Obviously, you'd rather be hurt when you're out there playing, but it could be worse."
Malone, who in four previous seasons with Tampa Bay has never played a full schedule and the last three seasons has played 69, 54 and 60 games, said he could be back as quickly as 10 days.
"Nothing to serious," he said. "It will be all right. Hope for the best."
"I feel bad for him," Boucher said. "In a short season like now, one month, that's a lot. I can't wait for him to get back, and when we do we'll be a better team. In the meantime, it's an opportunity for some guys to step up, and not just the younger guys but other guys that are on the team who have the opportunity to show what they've got."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Anders Lindback gets the start in net tonight against the Canadiens. Lindback is 5-3-0 in nine games with a 2.96 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. But in his past three games (two starts) he has a 3.24 goals-against average and .875 save percentage. ... No word yet on scratches but defensemen Brendan Mikkelson and Marc-Andre Bergeron and right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie were off the ice last. ... Panik, who will wear No. 71, said his parents and girlfriend are making the 17-hour trip from Slovakia to see him play. They are expected to land at 7 p.m. ... Boucher said the biggest difference in Panik from last season (he had 19 goals in 64 games for AHL Norfolk) is his consistency. Panik, 6 feet, 1, 208 pounds, agreed and said it was simply a matter of better mental preparation. "Just be ready for every game," he said. Added Boucher: "A big guy, tremendous speed, puck protection. he forces himself in, a solid hockey player." ... The plan for Alex Killorn heading into Sunday's game with the Rangers was to start him on the third line and then see what would be. Killorn played so well in his first NHL game, picking up an assist in 13:17 of ice time, he ended up on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell and getting power play time. "He deserved it," Boucher said. "It's not a question of age or experience, it's really how ready these guys are. If they're ready, let's go." ... After a sizzling start in which he had five goals and 12 points in seven games, left wing Cory Conacher has zero points in four games (though he still leads all rookies in points and assists). "I just have to understand goals are going to be a lot harder to come by," he said. "It's starting to become playoff hockey and that's just how it is. I was getting those bounces earlier in the season, everybody was, and that's why those goals were going in and now they're not. You have to continue to go to those dirty areas. A lot of those goals are scored within a couple of feet from the net, so it's going to be important for me to keep driving to the net."