Yesterday’s visit to Edmonton was a tough one for the Lightning, not only on the ice, but also in the training room. All in one day, not only did Tampa Bay announce that Victor Hedman would require surgery to stabilize a fractured finger and will miss four to six weeks, but Alex Killorn was injured during the morning skate and Ryan Callahan left during the second period. Jon Cooper announced today that Killorn and Callahan would not play tonight against the Calgary Flames, meaning that the Bolts will be without arguably their best defenseman and two Top-6 forwards as they face the 4-3-0 Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Despite all the key injuries, the Lightning show must go on. With that, Tampa Bay recalled Mike Blunden from Syracuse today. Cooper and the coaching staff need to decide whether to play six or seven defensemen tonight. If they go with six, that would mean Blunden would make his Lightning debut, but if they go with seven that would mean Luke Witkowski would make his NHL debut. Cooper said this morning that he was probably leaning toward 12 forwards and six defensemen.
Evgeni Nabokov will make is second Lightning start tonight against Calgary. Jonathan Drouin’s early returns from last night have been good. The youngster controlled the puck well and even found some time on the power play. He did not have a normal game day yesterday as he was originally not supposed to play. After Killorn went down at morning skate, Drouin was informed on the bus heading back to the hotel with the other scratches. No doubt about it tonight, so Drouin can have a regular game day. Even his parents will be in the stands tonight.
After tonight’s game the Lightning will stay in Calgary with a day off tomorrow. They will practice at Hockey Canada’s practice facility here in Calgary on Thursday prior to heading to Winnipeg.
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Key Cogs – With Hedman, Callahan and Killorn out of the Lightning line-up, that takes out a lot of the offense so far this season. The trio has accounted for eight of the team’s 19 goals.
Road Warriors – The Flames will be playing their first home games since opening night, October 8 tonight. After their first game they went on a six-game road trip with stops in Edmonton, St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago, Columbus and Winnipeg. To think the Lightning thought their current trip is long.