Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/7/13
The current number of Tampa Bay players sidelined by injury amounts to nearly half of the team’s NHL roster as the Lightning get set to host the Winnipeg Jets tonight. Tampa Bay lost two players — defensemen Victor Hedman and Keith Aulie — during Thursday’s victory against Ottawa to bring the total of players out with injuries to nine, with more than half of those out for a significant amount of time. Hedman, the team’s top defenseman, is expected to miss at least a week with an unspecified lower-body injury sustained when he was knocked into the side boards late in the first period Thursday. Aulie, who broke his left hand delivering an open-ice hit to Zack Smith in the defensive zone during the second period, had surgery Friday and is out indefinitely. The injuries mean Tampa Bay now has nine players in the lineup who ended last season with Syracuse in the American Hockey League and four who started this season in the minors. “They are going to start calling us the Syracuse Lightning here pretty soon,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Literally, right now there might be more guys in the training room ... we are going to have to move the locker room to the training room, because it’s getting tough to see. “It’s just unfortunate that we are not getting a break, because they keep coming and coming and coming. But eventually it has to stop, right?” It hasn’t in recent weeks. Tampa Bay went through the first month of the season relatively injury-free, but has seen seven players go out of the lineup since Nov. 11, including five in the past two weeks. Of the nine players, four have a broken bone of some variety — Steven Stamkos (broken tibia), Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone), Ryan Malone (non-displaced fracture in his ankle) and Aulie. Brian Lee has been out all season after having knee surgery, which required a second arthroscopic procedure that will keep him off the ice longer than originally expected.
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