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Lightning continue to be plagued by injuries

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA -- Lightning coach Guy Boucher sounded as if he were planning a visit to a local hospital rather than preparing to take on the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"Victor Hedman is not playing tonight, that's for sure," Boucher said. "He's still day-to-day, but today, it's not looking good. Nate Thompson? Not in tonight. He's a huge part of our team but his recovery isn't going as fast as I would hope."

Hedman is sidelined with an upper-body injury incurred when he hit the boards in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, and Thompson has already missed three games with a lower-body injury.

But the list doesn't stop there; in fact, Boucher bemoaned that he hasn't had all the pieces of his team even once this year.

"We've had injuries since the beginning," Boucher said. "(Mattias) Ohlund not being there from the start has made us adjust many times in many different ways. We take it game-by-game and we can't say we really play one particular way. It really depends who we have in the lineup."

It isn't all glum, however, as Tampa Bay, winners of three of their last five, has won their last two home games by scoring five goals in each and Steven Stamkos has 6 goals and 3 assists over his past six games, pulling him into a tie with Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers for the NHL lead in goals.

Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth had some better medical details to report.

"We've got everybody available," Cunneyworth said. "Twenty-two guys ready to go."

Cunneyworth, just off his first win as the interim coach on Dec. 27 at Ottawa, was optimistic about the team's prospects going forward.

"We're trying to build something, and we did some good work last game in Ottawa," Cunneyworth said. "There is room for improvement and this game against Tampa Bay is a chance to make that improvement. We want to continue to get better, and if we do that, I think the points will fall into place."
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