Yet again, a cloud of doubt and uncertainty looms over head coach Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning's heads after the latest round of injuries.
Cooper's message: they have dealt with injuries before and they will have to do it again.
Saturday, there is a chance the Bolts will be without netminders Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback and center Valtteri Filppula, which means some changes may be in store prior to their 1 p.m. contest against the Montreal Canadiens
LIGHTNING TANDEM HURTING
Less than two minutes into the first period Thursday, netminder Ben Bishop attempted to play the puck outside of the crease on Ottawa Senators Mika Zibanejad. Lightning teammate Nikita Kucherov was tripped up by Bishop on the play and his skate collided with the back of Bishop's head. Shaken up, Bishop had to be helped off the ice by team trainer Tommy Mulligan and defenseman Eric Brewer.
Friday, Bishop was the first Bolt on the ice at practice and said he was feeling much better after the accident.
"I was able to skate and it wasn't too bad," he said. "I just have to see how tonight goes and how I feel when I wake up in the morning."
Bishop said he felt lucky that Kucherov had only "skimmed" the back of his head and that if the speedy rookie had hit him directly on the results could have been worse.
Bishop then told the media he had a pretty bad headache immediately following the incident, but it improved as the game went on. As of now, the Lightning starting goalie is just playing the waiting game.
"It was nice to wake up and not have a head ache," he said. "Hopefully I wake up in the morning and feel okay. I just need to wait and see what happens."
He is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury.
With Bishop out early, Cooper then called on Lindback to assume duties between the pipes for the rest of the evening. Being visibly hurt after former Tampa Bay player Cory Conacher fell into the net, Lindback decided to stay in the game so the Lightning didn't have to explore their emergency goaltender options.
"It was a gutsy move by him," Bishop said. "He couldn't even go into the butterfly position after that. I felt terrible for him, but I wouldn't expect anything else from him. It shows his character."
Cooper said he does not expect Lindback to return to action before the Olympic break.
As far as a goaltending recall that remains to be decided, but Cooper did not rule it out. Bishop's status will be determined tomorrow.
"We will have a goalie in net tomorrow and it might be one who played in the NHL or one who played in the AHL," Cooper said.
He also said he was not sure who he would call-up if they decided to go that route.
"While it isn't ideal, we have depth in goal," Cooper said. "Bishop has been a big part of our team this year, but if he can't go, 19 other guys have to step up."
FILPPULA "DOUBTFUL" VERSUS HABS
Tampa Bay also lost Filppula in the second period Thursday. After being bumped in the left side by a member of Ottawa, Filppula headed back to the bench in pain and exited for the locker room. He then skated one more shift after being tended too, but returned to the bench again, while shaking his head "no" at Mulligan.
Cooper said Filppula may not be ready to go Saturday at Bell Centre.
With his status doubtful Cooper toyed with new lines during Friday's practice. Kucherov was inserted in Filppula's usual spot between Alex Killorn and Teddy Purcell, while Tom Pyatt skated with Nate Thompson and J.T. Brown.
STAMKOS NOT WHERE HE NEEDS TO BE JUST YET
When told by the media that his teammates reported Steven Stamkos' was looking good on the ice, he was humbled by the comment.
"It's nice to hear that guys are saying that and I was in the corners of the ice getting bumped around a little more," Stamkos said. "I don't feel where I need to be to play in a game yet, but I'm getting there."
Stamkos said one of the toughest parts recently has been the mental component and getting over going to the gritty areas of the ice.
"That's what you don't want," he said. "I'm trying to overcome that. As you progress you take more contact in practice hoping that goes away."