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Nikita Kucherov is day-to-day with a lower body injury

This is the darkest timeline.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Initial reaction:

That’s not a headline I ever wanted to write, but here we are.

This is actually the darkest timeline. Hopefully it’s something minor that doesn’t keep the Russian Assassin out of the lineup for a long time, but the idea of playing even a handful of games without him is enough to make even the most optimistic fans panic.

He is officially listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury - throwing fists against the Penguins on Saturday probably didn’t do him any favors. He scores goals. Other people fight. Those are the rules and let’s stick to them in the future, okay?

Exactly how important is Nikita Kucherov to the Tampa Bay Lightning offense? If we take a look at his productivity, he is the team’s most valuable player - and it’s not even close.

He has 30 points in 28 games, good for best on the team. Who is in second, you might ask? None other than Steven Stamkos with 20 points in 17 games. Yeah, that’s the same guy who hasn’t played hockey in a month, which reminds me this year really sucks...

In third place for offensive production is defenseman Victor Hedman with 19 points, followed by defensive forward Valtteri Filppula with 18 points.

Now you may be wondering where the familiar faces are - what about the rest of the Triplets line? Where’s Drouin? Tyler Johnson comes in fifth place with just 15 points; Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat are tied for sixth place with 13 points each. In all fairness to Drouin, he missed eight games due to injuries.

No matter how you slice it, this team has absolutely relied on Nikita Kucherov to drive the offense. Without him guiding the ship, we’re in some serious trouble. Tonight would be a great time for the rest of the top six to suddenly remember how to score goals.