Garrison injury tough blow to Lightning blueline
The Lightning lost more than just a game Monday night in Ottawa.
It also lost defenseman Jason Garrison, who missed the final two periods with a lower body injury that will keep him out tonight against the Canadiens (and potentially beyond). Garrison, considered day-to-day, will be re-evaluated when the team gets back to Tampa Wednesday.
"We'll know more on Jason when we get home," GM Steve Yzerman said.
It's a tough blow for Tampa Bay, which has had a relatively healthy blue line for most of this season but now is without a top-four defenseman and key penalty killer. Garrison ranks second on the team in blocked shots (76) and fourth in hits (68), his 16:18 average even strength ice time third on the team.
"That's a tough one too, because he's a big minute-munching defenseman for us," coach Jon Cooper said. "A big body and size. Tough when we lost him."
With Garrison playing just four minutes Monday, versatile center Brian Boyle played many shifts on defense, which he's done often the past two years. Garrison's absence likely means veteran Matt Carle will return to the lineup tonight.
Carle, the team's highest paid defenseman ($5.5 million), has been a healthy scratch in 10 of the past 13 games. There's a question of whether Tampa Bay would make a callup today, and go with seven defensemen, especially considering they played shorthanded Monday and Anton Stralman has been battling the flu.
But there's been no announcement from the team yet. Cooper addresses the media around 6 p.m. tonight so there should be a better idea then.
More from today: The Lightning held an optional skate at the Bell Centre this morning, and it was very optional, with only goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who started Monday, participating. The team held a meeting at their hotel. G Ben Bishop is starting tonight, and is 10-1-3 with a 1.62 goals against average in 15 career regular season games against Montreal. Tampa Bay is 8-0-2 in its last 10 games against Montreal, though the Canadiens beat the Lightning 4-3 in a shootout Dec. 28 in Tampa. RW J.T. Brown, arguably the Lightning's best player in Monday's 5-1 loss, has three goals in his last five games.