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Loss of Lecavalier Not Crippling but Lightning Now Face a Lofty Challenge

A tough stretch just got tougher for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Already missing forwards Steve Downie and Simon Gagne from their top-six forward ranks, the Bolts will now be without the services of Vincent Lecavalier, who suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right hand in Thursday’s 6-3 loss in Washington and will miss three to four weeks as a result.

Forwards Johan Harju and Marc-Antoine Pouliot are set to be summoned from AHL Norfolk today to help stabilize a now-hobbled Lightning offense.

For Lecavalier, who will miss at least ten games barring any expedited recovery, the setback marks another disappointing chapter in recent history. The Lightning captain followed up career bests of 108 and 92 points from 2006-2008 with 67 and 70-point campaigns the last two years and was off to an unremarkable start to this season with three goals and nine points in 13 games. All this, of course, after signing an 11-year, $85-million dollar contract extension in July of ’08 by former ownership…

You can’t pile on the guy now – not after an unfortunate injury – and people tend to neglect the fact that no one forced him to sign such a deal but is there any doubt at this point that it is an awful contract from the Lightning’s perspective? Seriously, even the most unwavering Vinny supporter can’t possibly look him/herself in the mirror and argue to the contrary… Right?

Anyway, this conversation is secondary to the fact that Tampa Bay is now without three of its top six forwards in Downie, Gagne and now Lecavalier and, as good as Steven Stamkos continues to be (#stamkosmath, by the way, now projects 76.533333 goals and 142.13333 points for the kid), they’ll be challenged to keep pace offensively minus the talents of this trio.

It sounds like Downie (neck) will be back sooner rather than later but Gagne, who has been a non-factor (pointless in six and out, injured, for nine games thus far) is still a wild card for the Bolts and has no clear timetable for a return, though he has been cleared for on-ice workouts. Whatever (and whenever) he can produce will have to be looked at as a bonus for this team at this point.

In the meantime, Harju (7-9-16 in 12 games for Norfolk this season) and Pouliot (4-14-18) will get a look, players such as Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell will have to step up and workhorses Sean Bergenheim and Dominic Moore, who have each provided a relatively unexpected level of offense to this point already, will also be increasingly depended upon.

The loss of Lecavalier might not be crippling but the residual effect of his injury (and the lingering woes of others) poses a great challenge for Tampa Bay.

***

JJ’s Three Cheers

***Cheers to Dwayne Roloson of the New York Islanders, who (I believe) gets the first acknowledgement from me this season in a losing effort. The Isles fell in San Jose 2-1 in a shootout but Roloson kept his team in the game with 37 saves in his latest herculean effort. The 41-year-old has been leaps and bounds better than counterpart Rick DiPietro but, unfortunately for his club, hasn’t been able to make enough of a difference to stop the current Islander tailspin, now at nine consecutive losses, despite the solitary point against the Sharks.
**Cheers to Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter, whose hat trick powered an 8-1 Flyers win over the Hurricanes in Carolina. The ‘Canes were on the other side of a blowout on Tuesday, winning 7-1 over Edmonton but were toasted by Philadelphia, who also got a pair of goals from Danny Briere.
*And big time cheers to Washington’s Alexander Semin, whose third period hat trick (that’s right, all in the third) capped a five-point night for him in the 6-3 Capital victory. This was the first meeting of the season between the top two clubs in the Southeast Division and despite an early Lightning lead after a first period tally from Teddy Purcell, the Caps took round one in what promises to be a matchup to watch all season long.

***

It’s not worth spending the time to write about how ridiculous the assertions of Damien Cox of The Toronto Star are in this article praising the work of former Lightning GM Brian Lawton.

But we’ll address it point-for-point on Monday’s episode of The Bolts Beat.

Yes, Lawton’s mark was made here. But bring his name up once inside the walls of the St. Pete Times Forum and you’ll quickly realize that it can be more accurately described as a stain.

That’s all for that until we hit the air Monday.

Minor league update on its way shortly…

JJ

jj@kuklaskorner.com
JJ on Twitter
The Bolts Beat podcast archive

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alexander+semin, dwayne+roloson, jeff+carter, johan+harju, marc-antoine+pouliot, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, steve+downie, vincent+lecavalier

Comments

SYF's avatar

It’s cliche but it’s so true - they just have to stop thinking they’re a man down and start playing as though it’s an opportunity for others to step up their games and really prove their depth.  If the Bolts can believe that every line has the chance to score a timely goal, hell, they might even surprise themselves.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 11/12/10 at 04:40 PM ET

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com