Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier says sore heel 'not a big deal'

VANCOUVER — They had a bit of fun with Vinny Lecavalier on Wednesday as he made his way to the Lightning's bus after a flight from Edmonton.

Video coach Nigel Kirwan, prompted by right wing Marty St. Louis, asked Tampa Bay's captain why he was limping across the tarmac.

"Didn't you watch the game?" Lecavalier replied.

Hours later, St. Louis still chuckled telling the story.

It was okay to joke. Lecavalier had only a bad bruise from a sizzling St. Louis slap shot that, near the end of Tuesday's game with the Oilers, caught him square in the back of the right heel.

It was so sore, Lecavalier was checked by Edmonton's team doctor after the game and had an X-ray, which Lecavalier said was negative. He walked on his toes without putting the heel to the ground.

Lecavalier was able to put the entire foot down Wednesday, but he didn't disagree when told he walked like an old man, slowly and with short, careful steps.

Even so, Lecavalier, with a team-best 25 goals, said he had "no doubt" he would play Friday against the Canucks at GM Place.

"It's sore, but it's fine," Lecavalier said. "I don't want to sound like a trainer and knowing what I'm talking about, but the first 48 hours, you just ice it. It's going to be sore, but it's not a big deal. I just have to ice it and take care of it."

Lecavalier was hurt as he went to the net, looking for a rebound of a shot he expected at any moment. St. Louis, along the right boards, wound up and, as he said, "got all of it."

So did Lecavalier's heel.

Lecavalier said he was lucky he wasn't facing St. Louis because the shot might have hit his toes or the side of his foot, both of which, he said, are more vulnerable to breaks.

The good news for Lecavalier is the break in the schedule before taking on Vancouver. A big test, though, will be today's practice.

"I'll put my skate on. That's going to be the biggest challenge," he said. "After that, it will be fine."

"Once you get the foot into the skate, you're generally okay," coach Rick Tocchet said, referencing the skate's ability to hold the foot rigidly in place. "Once you get the skate off, that's when it kills."

But like Lecavalier, Tocchet said, "I don't think it will be a problem that he can't play. I don't think there's any structural damage. It's just a matter of pain tolerance."

Still, for a team and a player looking for offense, the extra burden can't be helpful.

Tampa Bay has just 60 shots in its past three games. Lecavalier has just nine, and zero goals and four assists in his past six games.

"But I liked that he was in front of the net," Tocchet said of Lecavalier's positioning against the Oilers.

Not so much the positioning of his heel.

GOOD NEWS FOR KRAJICEK: Defenseman Lukas Krajicek, out for three games with a sore right hip, said an MRI exam revealed only swelling, and Tocchet said Krajicek could play against the Canucks.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier says sore heel 'not a big deal' 02/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 6:58am]

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