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Ranger nearing an early return
Lightning defenseman could be back next week.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times staff writer
Published March 28, 2007
TAMPA - Don't be surprised to see Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger back in the lineup by next week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday against the Hurricanes.
There is no official word. But trainer Tommy Mulligan said Ranger is slightly ahead of schedule rehabbing a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
The injury that was supposed to keep him out four to six weeks happened March 7 in Edmonton. Four weeks is April 4.
"The healing has taken hold," Mulligan said. "He just needs to get more confident and stronger."
"I don't know if I'm surprised," Ranger said of his recovery. "We have amazing trainers here. They're working magic."
Actually, it is three hours of rehab a day with assistant trainer Jason Serbus that is doing the trick.
Mulligan said Ranger, out eight games, has taken just one day off since the injury and has one full practice and a morning skate under his belt.
"It's not fun," Ranger said of sitting out. "You wish you were out there with the guys."
But Ranger, 22, considered one of the league's best at passing in the defensive zone, said he does not want to come back too soon.
"It's pretty tough to judge," he said. "If something happened where I aggravated it, it might not be good in the long run or for the rest of the season. That's why you want to come back when it's strong so I can be efficient and not tentative and not worried about hurting it again."
"He definitely needs more practice time," Mulligan said. "The good news is we haven't had any road blocks to set us back."
LET THEM PLAY: Florida's second-period five-on-three that resulted in Stephen Weiss' game-tying goal was created by questionable hooking calls on Tim Taylor and Doug Janik.
Taylor's was particularly soft, and both he and coach John Tortorella beefed to Brad Watson and Tom Kowal.
"They're trying to do the best they can," Tortorella said. "But when you get into such a shortened season, I hope the players decide things. As each game chips down, the players need to be the ones deciding. It gets a little frustrating, but there's nothing you can do about it."
PLAYOFF TICKETS: Eight-game strips for the first two rounds are on sale at the St. Pete Times Forum box office, tampabaylightning.com or by calling 813 301-6600.
Prices for season-ticket holders are from $808 to $168; for non season-ticket holders, $1,105 to $225. Single-game tickets will be sold at a future date.
ODDS AND ENDS: Struggling wing Ruslan Fedotenko, whose gaffe led to the turning-point goal in Saturday's loss to the Senators, started Tuesday on the third line. ... Nathan Horton had two goals for Florida and has scored eight of his 30 this season against Tampa Bay. ... IRL star Danica Patrick yelled, "Let's play hockey." ... Defenseman Matt Smaby, forward Blair Jones and goaltender Karri Ramo were healthy scratches.