Lightning hit hard by injury bug
Monday, 01.23.2012 / 7:17 PM / NHL Insider
By Lonnie Herman - NHL.com Correspondent
TAMPA, Fla. -- At their practice facility on Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning's locker room was festooned with red jerseys, which indicate "no contact" for that particular player.
A new red jersey was hung in Ryan Malone's stall, as he and Dana Tyrell joined the roster of walking wounded that now numbers nine players.
Tuesday night, the Lightning will face the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and although Tampa Bay is riding a three-game winning streak, the home ice advantage is of little interest to coach Guy Boucher.
"Right now, it doesn't really matter -- home or on the road -- it's a question of injuries. Malone and Tyrell are out and half of Norfolk is coming up," Boucher said, in reference to the call-ups from the team's AHL affiliate. "Upper body, lower body, back of the body and top of the head … we've got them all now. To me, it's just a blur right now."
Arriving from Norfolk will be Evan Oberg, who has made the commute numerous times this season but has yet to appear in a game, and Mike Angelides, who will be making his NHL debut.
"Angelides hasn't been up with us yet, so it will be another baptism," Boucher said.
Malone and Tyrell join a list of injured that includes Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Adam Hall, Tom Pyatt, Ryan Shannon and JT Wyman.
Filling the gap has been several AHL call-ups -- including Brendan Mikkelson, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Trevor Smith.
"The void is also being filled by our regulars like (Martin) St. Louis and (Vincent) Lecavalier and (Steven) Stamkos. Those guys are playing a lot and they need to," Boucher said. "Nate Thompson is practically sleeping on the ice. His tongue is hanging to the floor. He plays in all situations, offensively and defensively.
"This is the most injuries we've had since I've been here, by far," the second-year coach said. "It's extremely taxing, but this (Columbus) is our last game before the break and hopefully our guys will be back after the break."
Boucher was at a loss as to what to attribute the injury outbreak to.
"All the injuries are different," he said. "If we had the same injuries you could say, maybe its how we practice or how we train, but one is caused by being hit by a shot, another guy ran into the boards, they are all different. Without a tendency, it's hard to figure what to do better or differently."
Ultimately, Boucher attributed the rash of misfortunate to factors beyond his, or anyone's, control.
"The Hockey Gods are just whipping us left and right," Boucher said. "And we're taking it and fighting it and the players have shown great character of late and shown that they want to survive and that they are doing everything they can to survive."