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Injured Simon Gagne, Pavel Kubina not expected to play for Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of East semifinal vs. Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON — We do not know how bad, or not, Lightning left wing Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina are hurt.

Both players, knocked out of Friday's 4-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Capitals from severe blows to the head, left the Verizon Center on Saturday without talking to reporters.

The team is not even saying the injuries are to the head, referring to them as "upper body."

In other words, secondhand information had to suffice.

"They seemed okay," center Steven Stamkos said. "By no means am I a doctor, so I don't know what to look for, but they both seemed in good spirits and alert."

Still, Gagne and Kubina are expected to miss today's Game 2. That would be a blow to a team that already must be physically and emotionally exhausted after a grueling seven-game series with the Penguins and, after a one-day break, a come-from-behind win over the Capitals.

It also means coach Guy Boucher has to make decisions.

He said he will stick with 11 forwards and seven defensemen instead of the normal 12 and six, a hedge against injuries on the blue line and, really, an acknowledgement of the team's lack of depth at forward.

He would replace Kubina, who has two goals and averages 15:17 of ice time, with Randy Jones, who has not played since March 7 because of a high ankle sprain.

As for replacing Gagne, whose seven points are fourth on the team, it seems a choice between Mattias Ritola, a puck possessor with a good shot, and Blair Jones, a north-south player who gets to the net. Both were up-and-down from AHL Norfolk during the regular season.

"We're confident in our guys, no matter who is going to play," Boucher said. "We've had that so many times this year, so no one is panicking about it."

"It doesn't change our game plan," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They'll throw somebody else in there, and the guy will do real well."

Tampa Bay has a track record of overcoming injuries. It was without Vinny Lecavalier for 15 regular-season games because of a broken hand. Gagne missed 18 games because of a nerve injury in his neck. Right wing Steve Downie missed 22 games with a high ankle sprain.

"There have been a lot of guys who have stepped in to fill those shoes," Stamkos said. "We did it (in Game 1). We want (Gagne and Kubina) in the lineup as quickly as possible. But we have guys who are hungry who can fill those roles."

Jones is a comfortable addition. With a goal and 13 points in 61 games, he was a mainstay on the penalty kill and a shot-blocker.

"I feel my legs are coming back, and my wind, and even the ankle feels stronger than it did last week," he said. "It's a good sign."

The signs were bad in Game 1.

Gagne's head hit the ice and he was briefly knocked unconscious after a clean check in the first period by Scott Hannan. Kubina's head hit the glass in the second period after an elbow from Jason Chimera that was called a roughing penalty. Chimera did not receive supplemental discipline from the league.

No one has said anything about concussions — though they have to be a possibility — and Boucher said the players' spirits are "pretty good." He characterized the two as day to day.

That, at least, is good to know.

Injured Simon Gagne, Pavel Kubina not expected to play for Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of East semifinal vs. Washington Capitals 04/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 30, 2011 11:18pm]
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