The Lightning are going to have to do their best to hang in the race in the Southeast Division without Mike Smith for a little while. Smith has a sprained MCL in his left knee after getting accidentally clipped by teammate Simon Gagne during practice. Smith will be out 2-3 weeks to recover.
The timing of the injury is unfortunate for the Lightning as Smith was showing signs of shaking off a slump that had his stats ranked out as some of the poorest amongst regular goaltenders. Over his last two games though he was 2-0-0 with a goals against average under 1.00 and a save percentage of .961.
Goaltending has been the Lightning’s biggest issue this season and with Smith seemingly having turned it around, losing him so soon after that is bad timing. The pressure shifts to Dan Ellis to carry the burden for Tampa Bay in goal and his stats haven’t been much better than Smith’s over the course of the year. If Ellis falters, youngster Cedrick Desjardins slots in as the backup option. Desjardins was acquired from Montreal in the off-season for Karri Ramo.
Desjardins played well last year for the Canadiens farm team in Hamilton and the chances of him seeing an opportunity to find out what he can do at the NHL level are going to come, especially if Ellis stays inconsistent. It’s not an optimal situation for a team that appeared ready to turn things around, but it shapes up to be another test for coach Guy Boucher’s squad.