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Team gets a break on injuries

By BRANT JAMES and DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published November 23, 2003

TAMPA - The Lightning has been the healthiest team in the league this season with no player having missed a game because of injury, but medical trainer Tom Mulligan doesn't want to think about it.

"It's total luck," he said. "I'm a superstitious guy, and it's not anything I can control, or anybody else can, when it comes to someone being in the wrong place and blocking a shot and breaking a foot, or being in the right place if it saves a goal."

Lightning defenseman Cory Sarich said the key to avoiding injury is to play without fear.

"We go out and play an aggressive style, and I think that helps," he said. "I was always told as a younger kid that when you stand around is when you get hurt. If you're busy and doing your job, you're usually all right."

That may be something they tell you, but it's worked so far."

So has the Lightning's light schedule. The team, not coincidently, has played a league-low 16 games.

"If a guy needs to miss a game on a body maintenance program, he can with the way things are set up right now," forward Cory Stillman said. "There are teams out there that have played 20 to 21 games, and we're playing maybe twice a week."

That has already begun to change. Beginning with the home game Saturday against Buffalo, the Lightning plays five games in seven days, including tonight at Carolina.

"With this stretch right here, we'll see if this continues," Mulligan said.

THINKING OF HOME: It was quite a week for Edmonton. The Eskimos won the CFL championship and the NHL's first outdoor game was in Edmonton Saturday before a record 57,167.

Lightning right wing Chris Dingman, an Edmonton native, admitted a bit of pride.

"It's a good sports city," he said. "It's good for a community like that that cares about hockey and its sports teams so much."

The Oilers and Canadiens played at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

SLAP SHOTS: Forwards Martin Cibak and Andre Roy, and defenseman Darren Rumble, who just completed a two-game conditioning assignment at Hershey, were healthy scratches. ... Forwards Brad Richards (flu) and Dave Andreychuk (rest) played after missing practice on Friday.

[Last modified November 23, 2003, 01:46:45]

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