Clearing up the Tampa Bay Lightning roster just got a lot easier today as it turns out that defenseman Paul Ranger won’t be coming to training camp. Damian Cristodero of Lightning Strikes gets the scoop.
Not that this is a huge surprise, but Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said on Wednesday that defenseman Paul Ranger, who has been away from the team since October because of personal issues, will not be at training camp when it opens Sept. 17 at Brandon.
“I had a chance to talk with Paul and we’re entering training camp under the assumption Paul won’t be part of it,” Yzerman said.
That is a bit of a blow to the team, which believed Ranger, who can move the puck, would be a good fit with coach Guy Boucher’s puck-forward system. It also seems to have ended, for now, the organizational debate on whether to carry eight defensemen. Yzerman said he is “satisfied” with the seven blue-liners on one-way deals and is not looking to add another.
This now sets the Lightning lineup to be virtually all set on defense and helps explain at least one of the recent signings. The Lightning blue line will now roll with Mattias Ohlund, Pavel Kubina, Victor Hedman, Brett Clark, Randy Jones, Mike Lundin, and Matt Smaby. Ranger, a restricted free agent, would’ve been in a battle for a spot as the fifth or sixth defenseman this season, but after struggling last year with injuries, battling back for a place on the team would’ve been tough.
While this hurts Tampa’s depth a bit, especially after dealing away Matt Lashoff to Toronto, they appeared prepared for any moves after signing Randy Jones. Lundin and Smaby saw some good time last year but it does make the Lightning depth on defense look a bit suspect. That said, their top four are likely to see a ton of time.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.