© St. Petersburg Times, published January 8, 2003
TAMPA -- The Lightning, already without its best defensive defenseman, now must make do without its best offensive defenseman.
Dan Boyle, who entered Tuesday with 30 points, third among defensemen, is day to day because of a knuckle on his left forefinger that head medical trainer Tom Mulligan said sustained a "crush-type of injury."
That is not as bad as it sounds, Mulligan said, because the bone is not displaced and does not require surgery. Mulligan said such an injury normally takes 1-3 weeks to heal. When Boyle returns depends on how much discomfort he can tolerate.
The Lightning will be without Jassen Cullimore for 3-5 months because of a torn left rotator cuff.
Boyle said his injury occurred at the end of the second period Dec. 29 against the Rangers when he was hit by a slap shot. Neither he nor the team let on how badly he was hurt.
"I tried playing through it the last few games," Boyle said. "But I just felt like I was hurting the team more than I was doing any good."
Boyle said he could barely hold his stick Saturday against the Blues.
"St. Louis was the worst," Boyle said. "It progressively got worse. With me handling the puck so much like I do, I've just really been struggling."
"A tremendous loss," Lightning coach John Tortorella said "Not only offensively but defensively, because he's played so well."
BENCH BRAWL: Lightning wing Andre Roy was given two minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct 8:06 into the third period for punching Detroit's Kirk Maltby from the bench.
The play began when Tampa Bay's Ruslan Fedotenko ran Maltby into the boards. Roy said Maltby came in with his stick high and caught Roy across the jaw.
"I wasn't going to get involved," Roy said, "but I wasn't going to take a stick across the face."
Maltby was penalized for roughing.
"It was the right call," Tortorella said.
But Tampa Bay lost Roy who, on a line with center Tim Taylor and Dave Andreychuk, did a good job defensively on Sergei Fedorov's line.
Still, Tortorella did not criticize Roy.
"I have no problem with that," the coach said of Roy's punch. "They're chopping away and he gets hit in the face. It's a natural reaction."
HULL-ACIOUS: The Lightning could not say enough about Detroit right wing Brett Hull, whose 250 power-play goals is threatening Dave Andreychuk's record 253.
Most impressive to Tampa Bay is the way Hull, with 694 goals, disappears into the play then reappears for a sizzling one-timer.
"He gets lost behind the play and comes back so we lose track of him," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "And that's the toughest shot to stop, and he's the best at it."
"I don't really concentrate on a player, but you definitely have to be alert when he's on the ice and make sure you know where he's at," goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin said. "Any time you lose him, he's dangerous."
Tortorella said stopping Hull means stopping Detroit.
"He's an experienced guy playing with experienced people around him who can find him," Tortorella said.
PROSPECT WATCH: Center Alexander Polushin, the Lightning's top prospect, had two goals and six assists in six games during Russia's march to the World Junior championship. He was tied for fourth in the tournament in assists and tied for fifth at plus-9.
ODDS AND ENDS: Right wing Ben Clymer was out with a strained groin. ... Center Brian Holzinger was scratched. ... Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios missed his third consecutive game with a lower leg injury.