Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning's injury list keeps growing

J.T. Brown, left, and Michael Bournival, two of just 11 healthy forwards, celebrate Bournival’s second-period goal vs. the Blues.


J.T. Brown, left, and Michael Bournival, two of just 11 healthy forwards, celebrate Bournival’s second-period goal vs. the Blues.

TAMPA — The list of banged-up Lightning players continues to grow.

"It's getting ridiculous," LW Alex Killorn said.

One day after news that G Ben Bishop is expected to miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury, forwards Vladislav Namestnikov (illness) and Cedric Paquette (lower-body injury) were scratched Thursday for the 5-2 win against the Blues.

That meant that six of the team's 12 regular forwards were out (the others were Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan). Even with forward Michael Bournival called up from AHL Syracuse, Tampa Bay had just 11 healthy forwards to fill out a lineup. Coach Jon Cooper had no choice but to play seven defensemen.

RELATED: Lightning comes back to top Blues.

"We're losing more players than we're adding," Cooper said.

Palat (undisclosed) and Kucherov (lower body) were on the ice for the morning skate. It was Kucherov's first team skate since Dec. 14, and he looked much better. Callahan (lower body) missed his 11th straight game. With just a game tonight in Washington before a four-day Christmas break, it looked like Kucherov, Palat and Callahan might be rested. Tampa Bay's next game after the break is Dec. 29.

HIS TURN: G Andrei Vasilevskiy got the start against the Blues, beginning what will be his first extended run as a No. 1 goalie.

"It's a good opportunity for me to play more games," Vasilevskiy said.

Vasilevskiy, 22, will shoulder a heavy load until Bishop returns. Kristers Gudlevskis, called up Wednesday from AHL Syracuse, is the backup.

It's new territory for Vasilev­skiy. But the Lightning has confidence in him, having seen what he has done in the playoffs the past two seasons substituting for Bishop when he was hurt, as well as how he has handled an increased workload this year.

"He's a National Hockey League goaltender and a really good one," coach Jon Cooper said. "The future's bright for him, but … the future is now for him, and we're going to need him to be big while 'Bish' is out."

PK POWER: The Lightning believed Tuesday's 5-for-5 performance on the penalty kill against the Red Wings was an encouraging step for the struggling unit, which entered Thursday 23rd in the league at 79 percent.

Though Cooper said one issue with the penalty kill had been inconsistent structure, a lot of improvement will come as soon as players take pride in it.

"Once you get over that hurdle, everything else comes a little bit easier," Cooper said. "Every time we took a penalty (against Detroit), you could just hear them on the bench like, 'We're killing this off.' So when you start with that attitude, it can help."

ON POINT: Rookie C Brayden Point snapped a 14-game goal drought with his power-play goal in Tuesday's 4-1 win over Detroit. It was just the third goal of the season for Point, but he could have about 10 more with all the chances he has created.

"It's hard to say he hasn't been our best player the last few games," Cooper said. "He's been outstanding at all ends of the ice. He's gotten the feel for the league a little bit now. Got him at center, and it's really opened up his game. His speed and tenacity are exceptional. With the hockey sense, it's the total package. It's really nice to see."

Lightning's injury list keeps growing 12/22/16 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2016 12:53am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season


    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  2. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined


    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  3. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  4. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues


    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  5. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs


    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]