Goalie Smith out at least a week with finger injury


St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer

BRANDON — First, Mike Smith’s right ring finger went numb, then came the pain and, finally, the bad news.

The Lightning goaltender, scheduled to start tonight’s preseason opener against the Stars in Dallas, will be out at least a week with a fractured fingertip from being hit by a Steven Stamkos shot Monday at the Ice Sports Forum.

Dan Ellis will start. Cedrick Desjardins will back up.

“Any time you get an injury, whether small or big, it’s frustrating,” Smith said. “I think I’ve had a good camp, and having a little injury now, it can get to you. But it’s not as serious as it could have been. I have to look at the positive and not dwell on it.”

Smith, 28, is competing with Ellis, his buddy, for playing time. He also is in the final year of a two-year, $4.4 million deal and has said it is important he prove he can carry the load as a No. 1.

Smith said he still will travel on the four-game road trip and did not rule out getting on the ice today to work with goaltenders coach Frantz Jean, though he likely would not take shots.

“It’s just personal comfort as far as when you can get back out there playing,” Smith said.

That the injury is on his stick hand makes that a bit more treacherous because of the vibrations through a stick when hit by a puck.

“So, we’ll see how it feels,” Smith said. “It’s painful to get hit with a puck any time. It doesn’t feel good, especially from a guy who shoots the puck pretty hard.”

WHISTLE STOP: Coach Guy Boucher was on the ice for the first time after watching two days of scrimmages and made it clear he wants no lollygagging.

When players did not skate to him quickly enough when he blew his whistle, he dispersed them, said “do it again” and whistled again. Players rushed to him as if to a magnet.

“For me, there’s absolutely no time to waste to get better and faster,” Boucher said. “When the practice starts, we’re going to ware, and when the practice ends, I get off the ice and they can have a relaxing moment; not when I’m here. I’m all about getting the edge, not wasting time, getting guys to be at their top level at all moments. Then it becomes a habit.”

When noted how quickly players responded the second time, Boucher said, “If they didn’t, then we would have had some fun.”

IN PLACE: D Mattias Ohlund, coming off his first NHL season without a goal, practiced with the second power-play unit, notable because Ohlund did not get power-play time last season.

“I don’t even want to talk about it,” said Ohlund, a mainstay on Vancouver’s power play before coming to Tampa Bay. “Whatever happens, happens.”

Media matters: Tampa Bay’s game Wednesday in Winnipeg against the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will be televised by NHL Network. All Lightning preseason games are on 1250-AM.

ODDS AND ENDS: Boucher said goalies should play the entire game during preseason. …D Radko Gudas (shoulder) practiced. … Players not in tonight’s game have an 11 a.m. practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

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