It appears Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund's right knee issue could keep him out a significant amount of time.
Coach Guy Boucher said Monday that Ohlund is scheduled to have a procedure, and "it looks like we're going to miss him for the first month and a half, two months" of the year. Boucher noted that he was just expecting the worst, though hoping for the best, having yet to get a complete update from the team's medical staff. GM Steve Yzerman is going to address Ohlund's situation later today.
Ohlund, who hasn't practiced since Sept. 30, had an MRI exam last week that apparently revealed no damage. The alternate captain's absence - for however long - leaves a void in the Lightning's lineup, and on the penalty kill.
"We missed him the first month and a half of the year (last season), and it looks like we're going to miss him for the first month and a half, two months of the year," Boucher said. "So it hurts because what it does, we have to put (Victor) Hedman against the top lines, not that he can't do the job, he's been our best defenseman. It asks a lot of other guys that are not really in some of the spots (they) should be in...
"All I know is we've got a guy that plays against the top lines that we don't have. And you can't replace that. It' really puts a major hole in you're lineup and we've got a major hole in our lineup."
Also from today's morning skate: D Bruno Gervais will make his Lightning debut, stepping in for Matt Gilroy, who played the first two games. Mattias Ritola will get his turn in the forward rotation tonight, with Blair Jones (Friday) and Tom Pyatt (Saturday) each having their turns in the first two games. Boucher said he had planned to give each of the three a game in the first three, but from then on, it's up to them to see who emerges. "The ball is in their camp," Boucher said....It was certainly clear that Boucher was disappointed in the team's compete level in Saturday's loss to the Bruins, with several high-tempo battle drills coming early in Monday's morning skate. "We're a team that competes, we do not have the firepower or the skill, the depth, to think that we're up there with the top teams," Boucher said. "We didn't last year and because we are aware of it, we know what we need to do to compete against those teams. And the minute we forget that, it looks like last game."
One of the few bright spots of Saturday's loss, according to Boucher, is rookie Brett Connolly, who continues to impress.
"He's shown me (guts)," Boucher said. "I've seen him play really well with the rookies, rookie camp he looked like a man amongst boys. So then you wait for training camp, and during training camp he adapted every day and then you get to exhibition games where he looked great. And after exhibition games, when the real games started, I figure his play is going to lower down a little bit, and it hasn't. He played a good game against Carolina and he was one of our top players against Boston, in a place that's extremely hard to play against, a team that plays physical and he was looking like a vet. Obviously he's got to keep it up, but right now, he's showing me that he's not afraid to be the first on puck in this league against the big boys."