Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning injury list grows

TAMPA — The Lightning's injury list is so long, all coach Jon Cooper can do is joke about it. "We have to move the locker room to the training room," he said.

Nine players are hurt. The latest are defensemen Victor Hedman and Keith Aulie, lost during Thursday's 3-1 win over Ottawa.

Hedman, the Lightning's best defenseman and a mainstay on the power play and penalty kill, is day to day with a lower-body injury that seems likely to keep him out of Saturday's home game with the Jets. Aulie's fractured hand will be operated on today, Cooper said. He is out indefinitely.

Defensemen Radko Gudas (upper body) and Eric Brewer (lower body) might return to action Saturday, but that is just part of the merry-go-round that has Cooper scrambling to find new line combinations and defensive pairings.

"It's taxing," he said of the effect on the players. "It's emotionally and physically taxing. You're just playing with unfamiliar guys all the time. It's tough to get synergy and chemistry."

Still, "It's why you have a (minor-league) system," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk. Teams get hurt. We're probably a little bit on the extreme side. But we get to call up guys … that seamlessly fit in here, and that's what helps us win."

D Matt Taormina, who because of Brewer's injury was called up on Wednesday from AHL Syracuse, had three blocked shots, two hits and a takeaway in 16:07 of ice time against Ottawa. Cooper called him "outstanding."

But nine injuries? Even captain Marty St. Louis seemed shocked when told the number. "You try not to worry about it," he said. "That happens. You have to stay in the moment and go to war with what you have."

UPHEAVAL: The Lightning shook up its organizational depth in goal by promoting Kristers Gudlevskis to Syracuse from ECHL Florida. "We are very impressed with his maturity, his work ethic, his athleticism," GM Steve Yzerman said. "We like his attitude. He's a good prospect." Gudlevskis, 21, drafted 124th overall in June, was 7-4-0 in 11 games with Florida with a 1.83 GAA and .925 save percentage. He was 4-0-0 filling in at Syracuse with a 1.92 GAA and .924 save percentage. His promotion downgrades Riku Helenius, the No. 15 overall pick of the 2006 draft, to No. 3 at Syracuse.

MEDICAL MATTERS: Brewer was not specific about his injury but said he was hurt at Monday's practice. … LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (left arm/elbow) also might be available Saturday.

UGH: The power play was 0-for-4 with three shots against Ottawa and is 4-for-50 in its past 16 games. "A work in progress," Cooper called it, kindly.

ODDS AND ENDS: St. Louis' 938 career points are tied with Jason Arnott for 91st all time. … The announced crowd of 16,562 was Tampa Bay's third-smallest of the season. … LW Cory Conacher, whom the Lightning sent to the Senators in the deal for G Ben Bishop last season, is struggling with two goals, five points in 29 games. … With Taormina up, Tampa Bay has nine players with 50 or fewer NHL games. … The Lightning started the game with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. … LW Richard Panik was scratched.

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