Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle saw a specialist on Monday to determine the extent of an injury that forced him to miss Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over Colorado on Saturday and didn't receive good news.
The team announced Monday night that Carle will undergo surgery to repair torn adductor muscles in his lower abdomen on Tuesday. The procedure will be performed in Philadelphia by Dr. William Meyers. Carle is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
Carle had played in 347 consecutive NHL games until missing Saturday’s tilt against the Avalanche.
Carle left midway through the Edmonton game on Thursday.
The Lightning have now lost their second defenseman in the last three weeks for an extended period of time with Radko Gudas missing four months after having an operation on his knee (January 5).
Carle won't miss the rest of the regular season but will be out until at least March. Six weeks from Tuesday's surgery would have Carle returning to the lineup on March 3 against Buffalo. Eight weeks from Tuesday would be on March 17.
REST AND RELAXATION
Tuesday’s game against Vancouver is Tampa Bay’s last before the All-Star break. The Bolts have won two in a row and will go for a three-game sweep of their current homestand before taking a much-needed five days off.
“Looking forward to the break a little bit, especially with the amount of games we’ve played,” Cooper said. “You look at the standings and…some teams have played four or five less games than us. So you think about that over the course of the season, that adds up. We need a rest.”
The Lightning have played 47 games entering Monday, tied with Buffalo and Winnipeg for most in the league.
“It’s obviously a grind throughout the season, so for guys to be able to get away for a couple days, whether it’s hanging out here or go on little vacations, your body needs that,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “We’ve played a lot of games, the most in the league right now…Guys are welcoming this with open arms for sure.”
Getting a win over a strong Vancouver team would be a big boost of confidence for the Bolts as they prepare for the second half of the season.
“You obviously want to finish strong and be playing well heading into (the break), but I think it’s definitely welcome and guys appreciate it,” Stamkos said.
Vancouver has shut out two straight opponents – Philadelphia on Thursday and Carolina on Friday – prior to its game tonight at Florida. The Canucks will be playing the final game of their five-game road trip on Tuesday.
“Vancouver’s a good team and they’ve been playing well as of late, so we need to come out ready to play,” Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop said.
The Lightning entered Monday as the top team in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division, a single point ahead of Detroit and the New York Islanders.
“I do think that there’s a little bit of misconception when you look at the standings,” Cooper cautioned. “I’m not so sure if you took the best winning percentage of the teams in the East, we’re probably sitting at about fifth or sixth. In saying that, I do like where we are. I’d rather be in that spot than anywhere below. We’ve taken care of business here in the first half.”
Tampa Bay’s schedule following the All-Star break gets decidedly tougher. The Lightning play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings twice as well as the Anaheim Ducks, who lead the NHL in points currently with 66.
The Bolts play just four games at Amalie Arena in February and have their West Coast trip, one of the longest of the season, during the month.
“We’ve just got to keep munching points, munching points, munching points and hopefully we have enough in the end,” Cooper said.
Over the last two-plus months of the season, teams are battling to make it into the postseason or for a better seed in the playoffs, meaning the Lightning will likely get everybody’s best shot.
“It seems like there’s always something at stake, especially after the All-Star Break,” Stamkos said. “That’s when you really know you’re kind of in the last 30, last 25, 30 games of the season. For teams that had slow starts, they really need to buckle down. For teams that are playing well, you’ve got to find that consistency heading into the playoffs, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”