Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times reports that Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund — who underwent dual-knee surgery on Oct. 11 and hasn’t played this year — might be lost for the entire 2011-12 campaign.
Yesterday, Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher told Cristodero he’s operating as though Ohlund won’t be back, then offered a bleak outlook on the alternate captain’s future.
“I’ve been doing that for a while; not because I didn’t think he’d come back, but that’s how I have to be as a coach,” Boucher said. “As a team, guys are not really waiting for him. We’ve accepted we’ve lost one of our top [defensemen] and other guys have to play against the top lines and log the minutes.”
The 35-year-old Ohlund had surgery on both knees to clean out “loose bodies” (a phrase that’s entirely new to me) and hasn’t skated since mid-November. Many see his absence as a big reason for Tampa’s inflated goals-against total and spotty defensive play — last season, Ohlund finished second on the team in blocked shots, third in hits and was one of the top-three penalty-killing defensemen.
“It just hurts him a lot more than what he would have expected or the doctors would have expected,” Boucher said. “It’s difficult to manage because you can’t do much more than what’s been done. It’s pain tolerance. It’s a question of mobility. It’s a question of can he skate at the level in the NHL he needs to follow.”