Derek Stepan

There is a ‘chance’ Matt Carle could play Game 5

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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle, who has not played since leaving Game 3 with an undisclosed injury, is improving according to head coach Jon Cooper.

Carle has two assists and a minus-6 rating in 16 playoff games this season while averaging 16:35 in time on ice.

“He’s improving, so we’ll see,” said Cooper of Carle’s Game 5 status. “I guess there is always a chance, but we won’t be able to know. I haven’t seen him today.”

Carle left midway through the first period of the Bolts’ 6-5 overtime win on Wednesday night following a collision with Rangers’ forward Derek Stepan.

Mark Barberio took Carle’s spot in the lineup in Game 4. The 25-year-old was a minus-1 in 8:44 of ice time.

“I would say it’s inconsistent,” said Cooper of his team’s defensive play. “I think when there is long stretches where we’re not giving up anything, and then there is just a flurry. I look at (Friday) night’s game, we didn’t, I consider, give up a ton through the first 45 minutes.

“We gave up a ton in the last 15 minutes.”

Bolts rule Carle (undisclosed) out for Game 4

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Tampa Bay d-man Matt Carle will miss his first game of the postseason tonight when the Bolts host the Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena.

Carle, shook up following a collision with Derek Stepan during Game 3 — a hit that forced Carle from the game — was officially ruled out this morning by head coach Jon Cooper, who wouldn’t reveal what he’d do in terms of a lineup replacement.

From today’s media availability:

Q. So maybe get a guy like [Mark] Barberio in there?

COACH COOPER: Maybe. Our full 21 guys are playing, so you have to show up tonight to see which guy is out. But he’s one of the guys I told might be in.

Q. Either way, if you do go 7 [defensemen], you have a guy that hasn’t played for a while in the lineup. What kind of things go into that?

COACH COOPER: This is where you find out if guys are pros or not. It’s a game we all love to play, but it’s also in some respects, it’s your job. These guys are expected to, when your name is called, to come in and do the best you can and keep yourself in shape. Our guys and our staff have done a great job with players that haven’t been in the starting line-up, but potentially could come in. You look at everybody from, you know, if it is Barberio to [Jonathan] Drouin, [Vladislav] Namestnikov, [Jonathan] Marchessault, go down the list.

Carle, 30, was averaging 16:35 TOI per night prior to getting hurt, with two points and a minus-6 rating.

Bolts say no update on Carle (undisclosed) after Stepan collision

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To nobody’s surprise, the Lightning weren’t offering much in the way of a status report for defenseman Matt Carle, who was knocked out of Wednesday’s OT win over the Rangers following a collision with Derek Stepan.

“No update,” head coach Jon Cooper said on Thursday. “What’s the line? Day to day, but then again, aren’t we all?”

Here’s a replay of the injury:

Carle, 30, had appeared in all 16 of Tampa Bay’s playoff games prior to getting hurt, and was averaging 16:35 TOI per night. The Bolts are relatively well equipped to deal with his loss, should Carle be out any length of time; Cooper dressed seven d-men on Wednesday — as he has on numerous occasions this postseason — and has Mark Barberio waiting in reserve if need be.

Carle’s night is over after collision with Stepan

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The New York Rangers’ second goal was bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning for reasons that extend beyond the scoreboard. It looks like Matt Carle was injured during a collision with Derek Stepan, as you can see most clearly around the 50-second mark of the goal replay:

It’s considered an undisclosed injury, according to various outlets.

Stepan seemed a little shaken up by that collision, but he’s been able to play since that happened.

The Lightning dressed seven defensemen, so the one bright side for Tampa Bay is that they can still put three different blueline pairings on the ice through Game 3. They’re still down a skater though, obviously.

Fast and furious: Rangers build lead, Carle and Stepan may be banged up

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The Tampa Bay Lightning survived early penalty trouble against the New York Rangers in Game 2, but the story was different in Game 3.

Cedric Paquette took a foolish penalty in the opening moments. Chris Kreider blocked the vision of towering Bolts netminder Ben Bishop and Derick Brassard made no mistake about this 1-0 goal:

There were a lot of fireworks in Game 2, yet Game 1 finished 2-1. If this contest is more like most of the Rangers’ games in this postseason, then that 1-0 goal could be big.

Update: Jesper Fast scored one of the prettiest goals you’ll see, with a very nice pass from Kreider:

That briefly gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead, but Steven Stamkos made an impact with a big hit and even bigger goal, so now New York is up 2-1.

Note: In the very beginning of that goal clip (and more clearly about 50 seconds in), you can see Derek Stepan and Matt Carle collide. That opened the door for Fast’s goal to some extent, but it’s possible both players might have gotten hurt on that play. Two of a few possible injury issues to watch after a hectic first period …