Vinny: surgery possible, Worlds are iffy
It apparently will be a while before we know if Vinny Lecavalier will need surgery on his left wrist. The Lightning center said Saturday the first option will be to rest after the season (though he did not rule out playing in the World Championships, saying, "We have to do more evaluation'') and then figure out where things stand.
Lecavalier did not fly with the team Friday from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale. Rather he went to a scheduled appointment with Philadelphia orthopedist Lee Osterman, who last summer performed what had been a previously undisclosed procedure on the wrist to clean up, as Lecavalier's agent Kent Hughes said, some "loose ends.'' Lecavalier said the visit was not prompted by any new injury.
Lecavalier, who will play tonight against the Panthers, said Osterman said everything "looked real good'' as far as what was fixed in the previous surgery. Lecavalier did not reveal specifics but said he has dealt with pain in both wrists all season, but especially the left wrist, despite the surgery, has developed some "sharp pain.'' He would not say how much it has hampered him through the season.
"I just don't want to get too much into it,'' he said.
What he did say is that there is no plan to shut him down and expects to play in the team's final eight games.
"I think rest will be the best thing to do,'' Lecavalier said. "If it can get better by rest, then that's great.''
Other stuff from this morning: Center Jeff Halpern, who left Thursday's game with the Penguins with an abdominal strain, will sit out tonight but said he would return to the lineup, "Tuesday, for sure,'' against the Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum. ... Mike Smith, who took a step back against the Penguins with some bad puck-handling and less consistency stopping pucks, starts in goal. ... Coach John Tortorella said at the time he was hurt, defenseman Paul Ranger was playing better than Dan Boyle. Tortorella called Ranger "untouchable'' on an ever-changing roster and one of the league's most underrated players. Ranger will miss the rest of the season with a subluxation of the left shoulder. ... As for Boyle, who is minus-19, Tortorella said, "I just think he needs a clean slate to start a new year.'' ... With Halpern out, the lines will have yet another new look. Lecavalier's line is the same, but Craig MacDonald moves up to second-line center with Michel Ouellet and Mathieu Darche. Andreas Karlsson will center Nick Tarnasky and Junior Lessard, and Karl Stewart centers Jason Ward and Doug Janik, who should get more than two shifts as he got against the Penguins. Then again, that's what happens when you blow an easy clearing play that costs a goal. ... On the makeshift lineup, Tortorella said, "I think the team is generating as much offense as it can. But we are what we are right now. We knew at the trade deadline it was going to knock us down a little bit. We never complain about what we have, but I also have to be honest with my assessment of the hockey club. When a Pittsburgh turns it up like that. We can't match them offensively right now. So, we're fighting hard. That's all I want to see out of our team, to keep on fighting and see where we go.'' ... Panthers coach Jacques Martin said the way to beat the Lightning is to forecheck the young defense. "We have to exploit the defense. That's one area where we can apply pressure and create some turnovers.'' ... Tortorella said defenseman Filip Kuba has been playing well. ... Tortorella on the Lightning's miserable third periods; in consecutive games, Tampa Bay allowed goals 16 seconds apart: "It's taken on a life on its own here. That's what's happened with our third periods.''