With Lindback out and Bishop questionable, 2 goalies might be called up from the minors
The Lightning is in an unusual position as it heads into Saturday's game at Montreal.
With goaltender Anders Lindback (left ankle sprain) out and Ben Bishop (head) questionable, it is possible Tampa Bay will call up two goalies from the minor leagues. It was unclear if both Cedrick Desjardins and Kristers Gudelvskis could both be called up from AHL Syracuse, which plays tonight at Utica and Saturday at home against Norfolk, or how/if former first-round draft choice Riku Helenius fits in. The Naples Daily News reported Helenius already has been assigned to Syracuse from ECHL Florida, though there was no confirmation from the Lightning.
If that is the case, makes sense Desjardins and Gudlevskis would come to Tampa Bay.
"We'll have a goalie in net (Saturday)," coach Jon Cooper said. "I just don't know what league his last game was from. That's the only thing. He might have in the NHL. He might have played in the American League."
"We've got a little depth in goal," Cooper added. "Is it ideal? No. Bishop has been a big part of our team this year, but if he can't go 19 other guys are going to have to step up around whoever is in net there. We've done it before and I know we can do it again."
The bottom line is, the Lightning is in a tough spot that might include the loss for at least one game of center Valtteri Filppula, who left Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Senators early in the second period with what is believed a left hip/leg injury. Cooper, though, made it sound that Filppula being held out would be more precautionary.
At Friday's practice, Kucherov was in Filppula's place on a line with Teddy Purcell and Alex Killorn. Tom Pyatt took Kucherov's spot on a line with center Nate Thompson and J.T. Brown. Ryan Malone was added to the power play to fill Filppula's vacancy there.
The good news is Bishop, who left Thursday's game 1:49 into the first period after he dove to knock a puck away from Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad and was inadvertently kicked in the head by Kucherov, was able to get through an entire practice Friday in Montreal. Cooper said if Bishop does not play against Montreal, he should be okay for Tuesday at Minnesota.
"It was nice to wake up and not have a bad headache or anything like that and be able to practice," Bishop said. "Now we just have to see how it feels in the morning and go from there."
Bishop, who has 26 wins and entered Friday fifth in the league with a 2.01 goals-against average, said he believes he dodged a bullet as the side of Kucherov's left foot only hit him a glancing blow.
"If he hit me direct on, I don't know what would have happened," Bishop said, "so I feel a little lucky."
Lindback, who was subbing for Bishop, was hurt in the second period against Ottawa when Senators forward Cory Conacher fell on him after Conacher drove to the net and made contact with Lightning defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote.
Conacher initiated the contact in front of the net, said Cote, adding he did not push Conacher into the goalie who will be out, Cooper said, until after the Olympic break.
"He ran into me and then he ran into Lindy," Cote said. "I don't know if it was on purpose or whatever, but it's something that bothers a defenseman when you touch a goalie. ... I really didn't push him into Lindy."
Whatever happened, Lindback, whose left ankle was up against the post and took the full weight of Conacher, said he felt his ankle pop.
"I couldn't put any weight on it," said Lindback, who missed a month last season with a right ankle sprain.
And yet he finished the game in what Cooper called "a pretty gutty performance."
"I give that kid a lot of credit," Cooper said.