Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Toll of Tampa Bay Lightning injuries among worst in years

BRANDON — The thing about injuries, captain Vinny Lecavalier said, is they affect the individual's psyche more than that of the team.

That's because "as a team, there's nothing you can do about it," Lecavalier said. "The guy is out, another guy is coming in. You just have to deal with it."

It is, he said, part of the game.

But when it comes to the Lightning this season, "that's not part of the game," coach Guy Boucher said. "That's just outrageous circumstances we'll never see again. It's been one thing after another, nonstop."

Tampa Bay has lost 233 man games to injury, 12th worst in the league. It is the team's second-worst season in that regard since 2002-03, surpassed by the 351 games lost in 2008-09.

The latest casualty is center Nate Thompson, who will not play tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum against the Blues, the league's No. 1 team, because of an undisclosed upper-body injury sustained in Thursday's loss to the Maple Leafs.

That makes six regulars sidelined because of injuries, including Lecavalier (fractured hand) and No. 1 goalie Mathieu Garon (groin).

That's down from a season-worst nine players out at one time, but still …

"It's been really tough because you're hoping guys are coming back, and then guys come back and more guys are gone and we're never able to look at our team, really," Boucher said.

Tell that to the Islanders, who have lost a league-worst 589 man games to injury. Or the Penguins, who have lost 322, with Sidney Crosby out for 60.

But unlike Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay doesn't have the roster depth to compensate. So it's not just the number of games lost that's important for the Lightning, but who has been lost.

Defenseman Mattias Ohlund will miss the season with knee problems. Defenseman Victor Hedman missed 13 games because of a concussion.

Adam Hall, the team's best faceoff man, missed 12 games with a biceps injury. Wing Ryan Shannon missed 18 games with knee and shoulder problems. Wing Ryan Malone missed 14 with various bumps and bruises.

There was Marty St. Louis' eye injury that caused him to miss five. The loss of Garon on March 6 might have been the most devastating blow to the team's playoff push, and it certainly hasn't helped that Lecavalier has missed 12 games, with no firm timetable to return.

So Lecavalier spends his time skating by himself before team practices or working out off the ice.

"You're away from everything," he said Friday at the Ice Sports Forum. "You're not at the morning meetings, so it's tough to feel how the guys feel because you don't really see them."

"Mentally, it's draining," Shannon said. "You look at the team, they're either winning without you or losing without you. Either way, you're not part of the situation."

And that hurts as much as the injury.

record tied: AHL affiliate Norfolk tied the league's season winning-streak record with its 17th consecutive victory, 7-2 over Charlotte.

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