SUNRISE, Fla. - Stand in front of a hockey net long enough and sooner or later a puck is going to hit the wrong spot.
Just ask the Flyers' Jason Smith, who not only makes the front his home, but makes it his business to block shots for a living. Smith was hit in the right calf Saturday afternoon in Tampa and did not play in last night's 1-0 victory over Florida.
"You go out and play and you get knocked around out there and you get hit with pucks," Smith said. "Sometimes things don't go your way. It's just bruised, my calf is just swollen.
"It's mostly just in the muscle and there's a lot of [internal muscle] bleeding. We'll just deal with the bruising and try and get things back and circulating."
The amazing thing about Smith is that with the way he plays and the number of shots he blocks, he doesn't go out of the lineup injured more often.
That's not to say he doesn't get hurt, it just takes a lot to sideline him. Before being injured Saturday, he had played 141 consecutive regular-season games. He missed six games in the 2005-06 season and none since March 1, 2006.
So sooner or later, it was bound to happen.
"I was just standing in front moving a guy [and the puck] hits me in the leg," Smith said.
"It's still considered a block. I just try and play the game the way I learned to play it. Everyone has a role on a team and that's one of the things I do, be a defensive defenseman and block shots."
Smith was the second defenseman to go out of the lineup this weekend. Randy Jones missed both games with a bruised and sprained right knee. It's unknown how long he will be out. The injury brings Rory Fitzpatrick back into the lineup and keeps Lasse Kukkonen, who has been a healthy scratch, playing.
As of yesterday, there are only two defensemen not banged up in some way - Braydon Coburn and Jim Vandermeer, but that does not have coach John Stevens overly worried.
"[Smith] is out and [Jones] is banged up, so that's two of your six [defensemen]," he said. "If you do your math quickly that's about 33 percent of the guys we count on for big minutes. [Jones] is a power-play guy, [Smith] is a big shot blocker and penalty-kill guy, so there's two key guys.
"But [Kukkonen], he's been out a little bit of late and he's been working hard for the opportunity to get back in and play, and he's played some great hockey for us. [Fitzpatrick] is a veteran guy that's capable and capable of playing a lot.
"We've got depth in that position. [Nate Guenin] is coming along [on the Phantoms]. Alex Picard is having a great year, Ryan Parent is coming along. We have depth both here and on the Phantoms."
Scottie Upshall missed last night's game with a sprained right ankle he suffered Saturday. Stefan Ruzicka, who was called up before the road trip, played in his place. *
missed last night's game with a sprained right ankle he suffered Saturday. , who was called up before the road trip, played in his place. *