Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

More blue line injuries have have Lightning wondering who will play out west

Tampa Bay had just five healthy defensemen practicing Monday, so the lineup for Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles is a “huge question mark.”
Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian is expected to be out two to three weeks with a lower-body injury.
Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian is expected to be out two to three weeks with a lower-body injury. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jan. 17|Updated Jan. 17

TAMPA — It was just last week when Lightning coach Jon Cooper expressed excitement about getting his entire defenseman corps back healthy for the first time this season.

Now, as the Lightning embark on a three-game, six-day road trip to the West Coast, Cooper doesn’t know what his blue line will look like, especially on the right side. The team opens its trip Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Kings.

Zach Bogosian is expected to be out two to three weeks with a lower-body injury. Erik Cernak, who left Thursday’s game with an injury and didn’t play Saturday, is questionable for Tuesday. Jan Rutta was absent from Monday’s pre-flight practice, giving the Lightning five healthy defensemen.

“That’s a big question mark,” Cooper said of his defensemen’s availability.

Bogosian, who recently returned from a lower-body injury that sidelined him for five games, logged 19:58 of ice time in the Lightning’s 3-1 home win Saturday over the Stars. Cooper said Bogosian’s injury was a new one, not related to the previous one or the foot injury he sustained on a blocked shot in the season opener Oct. 12 that shelved him for 11 games.

Cernak, also a key member of the Lightning’s top penalty kill unit, has struggled to remain on the ice. He had two lengthy stints sidelined due to injury for a total of 18 games. Cernak returned Thursday, but was knocked into the end boards while chasing a puck and was stung on a blocked shot. He did not play Saturday and did not practice Monday.

Their injuries come right after left-side defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned from a three-game absence for a lower-body injury sustained from blocking a shot.

“Our poor D-line are taking a beating,” Cooper said. “I don’t know. I guess just probably a little bit on the unfortunate side of things but yeah, hopefully we can get this out of us soon. But a couple of weeks (for Bogosian) isn’t too bad; It’s a lot better than six to eight.”

Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) goes down after blocking a shot in front of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy against the Canucks on Thursday.
Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) goes down after blocking a shot in front of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy against the Canucks on Thursday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Lightning’s defenseman depth was tested earlier this season as well. Victor Hedman, McDonagh and Mikhail Sergachev ate more minutes, Cal Foote saw his ice time go up, and Andrej Sustr — currently on the taxi squad — filled in. Rookies Darren Raddysh and Sean Day made their NHL debuts.

“We’re used to it,” Sergachev said. “So I don’t think it’s a huge challenge for us. Everybody knows what they’re doing and everybody’s an NHL player. So guys are going to have to step up and play more I guess.”

The Lightning have just six games before the scheduled February break — and they are spread out among 15 days — so ultimately Cooper looks forward to much-needed rest for his players. The league has yet to announce a full makeup schedule that could consume some of the break — but the Lightning had just three postponed games, all on the road, and those also could be played after February.

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

“It’s not ideal, but other guys are getting to play and they’re doing a good job for us,” Cooper said. “So if we’re going to go through this, it’s better to go through it now than come playoff time. But it’s unfortunate because the guys that are getting hurt, now they’re not getting reps.

“But there’s a lot of time left in the season. ... I suspect we’ll have a little bit of a break and then we kind of get that final push for the last two months and hopefully we’ll have all the guys healthy.”

• • •

The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge