The dark, dreary cloud hanging over the Lightning these days followed the team to Ottawa, where the gray clouds welcomed the team to Canadaís capital city on Thursday.
It seemed only fitting for a Tampa Bay team suddenly besieged by injuries to have such a shadow cast. Goaltender Anders Lindback joined captain Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Malone and Benoit Pouliot among those to land on injured reserve.
That point was driven home as Lindback strolled off the team bus sporting a walking boot on his right foot to protect what the team is calling an ankle sprain suffered Wednesday in Toronto that will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely. Tampa Bay called up goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, along with forward Richard Panik, from Syracuse of the American Hockey League to fill out the roster.
Lindback, who came on in relief early in the second period, left Wednesdayís loss to Toronto midway through the third after he jammed his right foot into the post.
ďI felt something pop right above the ankle,Ē Lindback said. ďI mean, it felt OK standing up and then they came down and took a shot. I went down again, (and) I put the foot in about the same situation and I knew something wasnít great. But they are saying itís not too severe. Itís pretty much in one spot. Itís not too far up in the leg, so hopefully it will be a quick recovery.Ē
But ankle sprains to a goaltender, particularly high ankle sprains, can be tricky to recover from. Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson was diagnosed with one when he left a game on Feb. 21, and at the time he wasnít expected to miss much time. Thursday was Andersonís 13th consecutive game missed, and there are no signs he will return any time soon.
ďI can walk on it, itís fine. I donít feel anything,Ē Lindback said. ďItís more that situation when you go down in the butterfly, itís not a normal situation for the foot to be in, and when you twist it out, so every time I do that, thatís when the pain appears.Ē
With Lindback on injured reserve, which requires a minimum seven days, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher figures to hand the net over to veteran Mathieu Garon to try to salvage what remains of the teamís playoff chances with 18 games left in the season.
ďItís been a difficult year. Itís been a lot of things to deal with, and itís been the weirdest year Iíve had in 15 years of coaching, there is just always something happening,íí Boucher said. ďIn this particular situation, our goaltender had really picked up his game and really shown us what we were hoping and expecting from him. And it was just starting to pay off, you could really feel it, and it had a major impact on our team.
ďAnd I feel bad for (Lindback), Ö he worked so hard to stabilize his game, and it was there. Now Garon is going to have to take the lead.Ē
The Lightning do not play again until Saturday afternoon, getting a rare opportunity to catch their collective breath before facing the Senators at ScotiaBank Place to start a back-to-back that concludes Sunday in Winnipeg. And with the importance of wins to try to stay in the playoff conversation, Boucher said he is leaning toward giving Garon the start in both games.
Meanwhile, the Lightning are trying to find ways to stay positive despite the aura of negativity surrounding the team.
ďThatís always something easy to say as an excuse that weíve had some very impactful players who are out. When you look at it, itís tough to stay positive,íí center Steven Stamkos said. ďAs a team, we have to find a way. Nobody is feeling sorry for themselves. No one is feeling sorry for us. Itís tough. I donít really know how to explain it. Itís tough. Itís a weird year with all these injuries. Itís affecting us as a team, for sure.íí