Gloomy Monday in Tampa Bay.
Already without the services of Braydon Coburn and still upset from Saturday’s 4-0 spanking in Detroit, the Bolts learned today that key defenseman Jason Garrison would miss the next 3-4 weeks with an injury suffered on a questionable hit from Wings forward Justin Abdelkader.
The Lightning also announced that fellow blueliner Andrej Sustr would miss 1-2 weeks. Both he and Garrison are listed with upper-body ailments.
The bigger loss of the two is Garrison, who’s enjoying a solid campaign. The 30-year-old had four goals and 30 points through 70 games this year — third on the team in d-man scoring — and received huge praise from head coach Jon Cooper.
“[Garrison] is a man out there,” Cooper recently told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “He defends really well, he skates. He’s really hard to play against. And, usually, nine times out of 10 if he’s going into the corner with somebody, he’s the guy coming out with it.”
Here’s the hit that sidelined Garrison:
The Bolts weren’t happy with the play, with starting netminder Ben Bishop calling Abdelkader’s actions “pretty dirty.” The Detroit forward received a two-minute boarding minor on the play, and wasn’t suspended.
So, where does this leave Tampa Bay?
The Bolts take on the Habs in Montreal tonight with what amounts to a patchwork defense. Victor Hedman will play with Luke Witkowski, Anton Stralman will skate with Nikita Nesterov and Matt Carle is paired with Mark Barberio.
As for long-term projections… given the 3-4 week timetable for recovery, it looks as though Garrison will miss some playoff time. Sustr could be ready for the start of the postseason and it’s still unclear when Coburn will be healthy enough to return.