Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning top defenseman Eric Brewer still deals with back injury

BRANDON — Picture a hose, Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer said.

Step on it, and it kinks. The longer you step on it, the longer it takes to regain its shape and water can flow freely.

The Lightning defenseman made the analogy Sunday at the Ice Sports Forum to explain why, two years after his second surgery on a herniated disc in his back, he still has a "pins and needles" feeling down his right leg.

"It's died down, and I can manage it a bit better," Brewer said. "I just have that one nerve path that's still pinching."

Coach Guy Boucher said he did not know Brewer still felt the effects of the injury that required surgeries in December 2008 and April 2009. That is because Brewer does not talk about it without prompting. He also has been Tampa Bay's best defenseman since being acquired in February from the Blues.

He solidified that in Game 2 of the East quarterfinals with a goal and three points in the Lightning's 5-1 victory that tied the best-of-seven series with the Penguins at one game apiece.

"Do you have a half-hour?" Boucher joked when asked about Brewer's impact. "Big guy with a long reach, and when you can move like that, you create space for yourself and your partner."

"He gets the puck, and he's confident and patient with it," said Mike Lundin, who has been Brewer's partner. "He's always talking, always calm. That helps calm the rest of us down."

Brewer, who turned 32 Sunday, also is measured talking about an injury that reports at the time in St. Louis called career-threatening.

"That was a bit much," the former Blues captain said. "At no point was I told it was going to be career-threatening.

"It certainly was career-delaying."

Brewer said the December 2008 injury resulted from wear-and-tear and the herniated disc basically splattered material onto the sciatic nerve, causing it to pinch.

Brewer wasn't cleared to rehab until June 2009 and two months later had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee that delayed his return until late October. He played 59 games in 2009-10 after just 28 the season before.

"I try not to think about it a whole lot," Brewer added. "But there certainly are days I look back and go, 'Holy smokes! It's come a long way.' "

Brewer, 6 feet 3, 220 pounds, still does between 30 and 60 minutes of exercises and stretching before every practice and game to strengthen his core.

"Stomach, lower back, the whole trunk area to keep anything from flaring up," Lightning head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said.

Brewer had a goal and an assist and was plus-5 in 22 games after the trade. His three points are tied for the team playoff lead, and his average 24:35 of ice time leads by almost two minutes.

"We've just got to wear him down," Penguins right wing Arron Asham said of the Game 3 strate­gy tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. "He's a big guy. We have to chip the puck behind him and wear him down."

Getting the puck past Brewer is not easy. He did not get an assist on Vinny Lecavalier's Game 2 goal but began the sequence that led to it by batting down at the blue line a clearing attempt.

"That was a lucky play," Brewer said.

Or, more likely, skill.

Tampa Bay Lightning top defenseman Eric Brewer still deals with back injury 04/17/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2011 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    Did the Rays make the right call in picking RHP Austin Pruitt rather than top prospect Brent Honeywell? Though Honeywell had tweeted he was as ready as he'd ever be, the Rays felt better going with Pruitt, who gave them the five innings they were seeking.

  2. Damion Lowe returns to Rowdies after eventful Gold Cup

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pretty well emotionally spent, and not at all rested physically having just finished a life-changing stint with his native Jamaica in the Gold Cup, Damion Lowe wants the Rowdies to know he's ready.

    Damion Lowe, right, returns to the Rowdies — though he is likely to get a rest in tonight’s 7:30 home game against Pittsburgh — after an eventful six Gold Cup matches.
  3. Rays journal: Lineup dominated by Masahiro Tanaka in loss to Yankees (w/video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Sometimes you just have to dig out the good news, and for the Rays on Friday it may well have been that they didn't get no-hit in a 6-1 loss.

    Austin Pruitt waits for Brett Gardner to round the bases after leading off the first with one of three homers Pruitt gives up.
  4. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, New York

    The Heater

    Today: at Yankees

    1:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws against the Rockies during the first inning Tuesday. He left after allowing just one hit and striking out nine in six shutout innings.  {Associated Press}
  5. Steve Cishek latest bullpen upgrade for Rays, who now must translate that to wins

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The Rays made another addition to change the look of their bullpen Friday in acquiring veteran side-armer and former closer Steve Cishek from Seattle.

    Reliever Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games after recovering from offseason hip surgery and a 1.86 ERA since a rocky second outing of the season.