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Prognosis discouraging for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina

BOSTON — Lightning coach Guy Boucher's update Tuesday on D Pavel Kubina was not promising, an assessment that raised questions whether the veteran will return this postseason.

Kubina did not travel with the team to Boston for the first two games of the Eastern Conference final.

"The update is not very good," Boucher said. "Every day there seems to be a little progression, it kind of slips back a bit."

Kubina was hurt April 29 in Game 1 of the semifinal series against the Capitals, taking an elbow to the back of the head from Washington LW Jason Chimera. As a result, Kubina's head bounced off the glass.

He has not practiced with the team since and is believed to be suffering from concussion-like symptoms, though the Lightning has called it an upper-body injury.

Kubina, 34, one of three Lightning players who was on the 2004 Stanley Cup team, has two goals, three points and is plus-2 in eight playoff games in 2011, while averaging 15:17 in ice time. He also has played a key role on the second power-play unit.

"Obviously, we're missing him," Boucher said. "He's got size. He's got some offensive abilities, and our second power play, he made a big difference on it. Right now, we've adapted, (Marc-Andre) Bergeron has kind of taken the lead on the power play. We've had to adapt because he was doing very well."

In Kubina's absence, the minutes of D Eric Brewer, D Victor Hedman and D Mattias Ohlund have increased, with Brewer averaging more than four additional minutes per game than in the regular season. And there's still no timetable on Kubina's return.

"It's the kind of injury you never know," Boucher said. "You wake up the next day and everything is great or just keeps going the same way, so it's very hard to monitor what's going on with him."

EASY DOES IT: Bergeron entered Tuesday with power-play goals in back-to-back games, delivering the type of shots from the point that the Lightning envisioned when signing the veteran power-play specialist in January.

It broke a slump of nearly three months without a goal, dating to Feb. 18, and Boucher said there's a reason; Bergeron has been showing more poise with his shot rather than forcing it.

"What was happening before, he was trying to get the puck through the net and the board and the stands and right down to the parking lot," Boucher said. "That has a tendency to miss the net more often. So he went back to having a heads up. Because he's one of those guys that can actually move and have heads up and shooting at the same time without looking at his puck. Very few guys can do it."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Bruins star C Patrice Bergeron (mild concussion) didn't play for the second straight game, though speculation brewed that the team's top playoff scorer and faceoff man is close to returning.

Bergeron practiced with the team for the second straight day, and coach Claude Julien was coy, only saying "if he's in, you're going to see him in warmups tonight."

Bergeron hasn't played since suffering the injury in Game 4 of the semifinal series against the Flyers.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Prognosis discouraging for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina 05/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 1:22am]

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