It was announced today that Ondrej Palat will be out of the Lightning lineup 3 to 5 weeks with a lower body injury suffered in a game Saturday night. The replays clearly showed Nino Niederreiter of the Minnesota Wild falling onto Palat's lower left leg/ankle/foot during a scrum around the net. In no way was it intentional and just a matter of wrong place-wrong time for Palat. It's hard to say exactly what the injury is. Check out the replay below to see exactly what happened.
Palat just had to be helped to the locker room pic.twitter.com/bLJMq2usZP— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 8, 2015
Palat was seen with an ankle brace during practice on MOnday.
While Palat hasn't been producing as well as he did last season, neither has the rest of the forward corps lately. Still his 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists) has him tied for 5th in scoring on the team and tied for 4th among forwards. The team has already announced the recall of defenseman Nikita Nesterov, but this injury will likely precipitate the recall of another forward. The top two candidates for a recall would be Jonathan Marchessault or Tye McGinn. With Cedric Paquette back in the lineup, the need for a big body like McGinn is lessened and Marchessault provides a little more scoring potential in the bottom-6.
Thankfully, Jonathan Drouin is back in the lineup and hopefully will be 100% as early as tomorrow night's game. Palat's injury and Drouin's recovery will likely result in another major shake up to the forward lines to find the right mix of players and chemistry. The easiest solution would be to slot Drouin back in on the first line left wing spot where he was prior to missing 5 games with his lower body injury. However, with the team still struggling to find the back of the net, I won't be surprised if coach Jon Cooper makes a complete shake-up. Here's my best projection of the lines for tomorrow night's game against the Wild.
|Jonathan Drouin||Steven Stamkos||Ryan Callahan|
|Alex Killorn||Tyler Johnson||Nikita Kucherov|
|Valtteri Filppula||Vladislav Namestnikov||Erik Condra|
|Cedric Paquette||Brian Boyle||J.T. Brown|
I think the top-6 is the right mix and that first line was having good success before Drouin's injury. The bottom-6 though is a bit tougher because it can be worked around in a lot of ways. Paquette could play right wing on the third line with Condra on the fourth line and Brown flipping to the left wing. You could play Marchessault on the wing for the third line to give them a better shooter and scratch Brown with Condra moved down to the fourth line. You could bring up McGinn and scratch Brown and have a pretty tough fourth line. There's still a lot of questions around that bottom six and how best to utilize them and that is where I have the least confidence in projecting because there are so many combinations possible right now.