Matt Carle (Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Matt Carle won’t be in the lineup for Friday night’s Game 4. Carle, who has suited up in every game thus far, was hit and injured by Derek Stepan early in Game 3 and did not return to action. Mark Barberio could draw into the lineup in Carle’s absence.
Carle, who has suited up in each of the Lightning’s post-season games during their current run, left Game 3 following the hit from Stepan and did not return to action Wednesday night. In total, Carle skated 1:36 before he was said to be out with an undisclosed injury. Now, heading into Game 4, it appears that he could be out for longer than Tampa Bay would have hoped.
Thursday afternoon, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said there was “no update,” on Carle’s status, which is currently listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. But in his pre-game press conference Friday afternoon, Cooper did confirm that Carle won’t be in the lineup for Friday evening’s contest.
During Tampa Bay’s Friday optional morning skate, each Lightning roster player was in attendance, save for Carle, who was absent from the ice for the duration of the practice. In his place in the lineup was Nikita Nesterov, but Cooper told media that Mark Barberio, who has yet to play in the post-season, will take part in warmups and could be in the lineup.
“Our full 21 guys are playing, so you have to show up tonight to see which guy is out,” Cooper told media ahead of Game 4. “But (Barberio’s) one of the guys I told might be in.”
When asked about the possibility of having to utilize a defenseman like Barberio, whose last NHL action came on April 11, Cooper said it’s up to the players to be ready.
“Our guys and our staff have done a great job with players that haven't been in the starting lineup but potentially could come in,” said Cooper. “You look at everybody from Barberio to (Jonathan) Drouin, (Vladislav) Namestnikov, (Jonathan) Marchessault, go down the list. Those guys are ready to play at any time, and when you're called, you've got to come in and do the best you can. When you're called, you've got to be a pro.”
In his 16 playoff games this year, Carle has two assists and has been steady on the backend for the Lightning. Though he hasn’t wowed with any offensive flair, he’s defended well and logged over 16 minutes per contest on the Tampa Bay blueline.
While he doesn’t have a Stanley Cup ring, Carle is one of few players on the Lightning roster that have Stanley Cup finals experience. Carle was a member of the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers team that made it to the finals against the Blackhawks, ultimately losing in six games to Chicago. During that playoff run, Carle notched one goal and 13 points while skating nearly 26 minutes per contest.