The hits, and they're not good ones, just keep on coming for the Tampa Bay Lightning defense. Already with Mattias Ohlund, who last week had what coach Guy Boucher called a "big" setback in his recovery from surgeries to both knees, the Lightning lost Pavel Kubina for at least tonight's game with the Senators because of a lower-body injury.
Kubina would not be specific about the injury, which had not been previously revealed, except to say it occurred in the final minutes of Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Rangers. Kubina skated briefly Monday morning with his teammates but left the ice and decided he could not play. He said he is not ruling himself out for Tuesday's game with the Islanders but it is a wait-and-see thing.
"We'll see (Tuesday) and the next couple of days," Kubina said, adding that if the injury did not improve he might go for an MRI exam. But that has not been done yet.
"In his words, speed is not his thing, so if you've got a lower-body injury, it isn't going to help his game," Boucher said. "We want to be smart on this one, so instead of it being 10 days, maybe it will be five days, three days, four days."
Boucher agreed he feels a bit snake bit when it comes to his blue line. Already struggling with consistency, and now without two of his biggest bodies, there is a lot more pressure on the remaining defensemen to step up. Bruno Gervais comes in for Kubina against the Senators. He has played in just six games this season and been a healthy scratch in the past eight.
"Let's not kid ourselves," Boucher said. "We're not in a position as a team to lose defensemen and keep playing and look the same way. The reality is it's something we know we have to improve, so it's tough."
The bottom line, Boucher said, "Some guys want more ice time, now they've got it. It's time to shine for some guys."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. That means unless he is lights-out tonight against the Senators, Mathieu Garon will face the Islanders Tuesday in New York. ... Right wing Adam Hall is scratched for the second straight game. ... Wing Ryan Shannon plays his first game in Ottawa since leaving the team to sign with the Lightning as a free agent. Shannon has one goal and five points in 18 games. He had 11 goals last season for Ottawa. "It's progressing, going forward," Shannon said of his transition to Tampa Bay. "I'm looking for that breakthrough game." Asked if he believes his transition is slower than expected, Shannon said, "I would have liked to come in and score a hat trick, but that hasn't happened yet." ... In hindsight, defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron said he can see very clearly what he should have done during the third period of the 4-2 loss to the Rangers, simply chip the puck out of the defensive zone. But Bergeron tried to make a play, lost the puck when checked by Ryan Callahan and New York score to tie the score 2-2, the first of its three third-period goals. "Maybe I was a little overconfident, looking for too much," Bergeron said Monday. "I didn't read the situation right. I see the play in the back of my head, and it would have been easy just to tap it out. I obviously know what I did and that's a big part in solving the problem." The problem, Boucher said, is that with Ohlund out, Lightning defensemen have had to play in positions in which they are not comfortable. "I'm very honest with this," Boucher said. "If you put guys in slots that they are not used to managing, it asks to much of some players. Bergeron, since we've got injuries, he's playing against the second lines, against fast, smart, offensive players, second-liners. When have you seen Bergeron play against those guys before? We're asking too much of some guys and it hurts. It hurts him and it hurts the team and I feel feel for him. He had been playing terrific, but when you have to manage the power play and play against second lines against teams like the Rangers and Detroit, it's very difficult for anybody to manage that." With Ohlund and Kubina out, it's not going to get easier.