Even though Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman are on the shelf with injuries that will keep them out well into the post-season, the Lightning could at least take solace in the fact defenseman Victor Hedman is healthy. Well, that “is” became a “was” Tuesday, as Hedman was scratched ahead of Tampa Bay’s meeting with the New York Rangers.
In what is the nearly the worst-case scenario for the Lightning (hey, at least Ben Bishop is still healthy, right?), the Lightning announced Hedman wouldn’t be able to play Tuesday as he was dealing with an upper-body injury that will sideline him on a day-to-day basis. No further information was released about the injury, but there’s some concern brewing that Hedman may be dealing with a head injury.
In the late stages of Monday’s game against the Islanders, Hedman was on the receiving end of a high hit from New York blueliner Thomas Hickey, and the hit left Hedman visibly shaken:
Hedman didn’t immediately leave the ice and remained in the contest, but there’s further concern as the blueliner didn’t remain in the contest for the duration of the third period. He took the hit from Hickey with nearly 10 minutes remaining, but by the 5:30 mark Hedman had skated his last shift of the game. He didn’t see the ice in the final five minutes of the contest. Hedman has averaged more than 23 minutes of ice time per game, but he skated only 21:51 in Monday’s game. He’s one of Tampa Bay’s top penalty kill blueliners and he quarterbacks the second power play unit.
Not only does Hedman play important minutes for the Lightning, but he has been an offensive catalyst from the back end. His 10 goals and 47 points put him third on Tampa Bay in points behind only Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Ahead of the tilt with the Rangers, the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith reported that Lightning coach Jon Cooper wouldn’t confirm whether or not Hedman would be in the lineup for the contest, and it wasn’t announced until nearly the beginning of Tuesday’s game that Hedman would be out. The day-to-day nature of Hedman’s upper-body injury gives little certainty about when he could possibly return.
Following the second half of the back-to-back tonight in New York, the Lightning will finish off their season with two more road games. Tampa Bay will head to New Jersey Thursday to play the Devils before ending the season in Montreal against the Canadiens.