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Lightning Round: Mitchell Stephens could be out for a while

Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes is expected to be postponed.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Yesterday the Tampa Bay Lightning lost their first game of the 2020-21 regular season against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and missed their chance to start the season with a 4-0-0 record. The Lightning didn’t look bad, but the Blue Jackets clearly performed better offensively. Justin brings you a recap of yesterday’s game [Raw Charge]

The Lightning were the first to get on the board with a somewhat unconventional goal by Victor Hedman. Mitchell Stephens sped down the left side of the ice and into the zone. He pulled up and centered the puck to Alex Volkov but the puck was slightly behind him and he lost an edge. Hedman came in, had his attempted slap shot disrupted, but controlled the puck, spinning around and shooting between his legs. Merzlikins did not play it well and it somehow trickled into the net.

Not only did the Lightning lose, but yesterday’s game were also accompanied by some unfortunate events. First, Eric Cernak left the game after taking a very awkward spin in the Lightning defensive zone during the first period. Earlier in the game he also received a hit by Nick Foligno and slid into the boards, which probably caused an injury. Per Jon Cooper Cernak’s condition will be reevaluated in the next few days.

Later in the third period Mitchell Stephens got an injury after being pulled down from behind by David Savard. Lightning coach Tom Mulligan and Victor Hedman helped him leave the ice, as the player couldn’t put weight on his right leg. According to Jon Cooper Stephens injury looks serious and he might miss some games.

If Erik Cernak won’t be ready for the next game, we will likely see Luke Schenn’s return to the lineup. Andreas Borgman is also an option with Mikhail Sergachev temporarily moving to the right side of defence.

With Stephens absence, Gemel Smith looks like the logical option to replace him on the fourth line. Unlike Alex Volkov or Mathieu Joseph, Smith could play as a center and is more fitted to a bottom-line role. Blake Coleman, who apparently missed yesterday’s game as a punishment for being late for a meeting, is expected to return for the next game. I’d expect him to replace Volkov in the lineup: the young Russian forward recorded his first assist of this season, but his stats still don’t look very impressive, as the Lightning are being massively outplayed with him on the ice. In fairness, the same could be mentioned about his partners – Pat Maroon and Mitchell Stephens too.

Lightning Links

After yesterday’s game, the Lightning returned to Tampa, as Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is expected to be postponed. The NHL will release an official statement in the next days.

The Syracuse Crunch welcomed new faces, as the Florida Panthers reassigned defensemen Riley Stillman and Brady Keeper from their taxi squad to Syracuse.

Hockey News

The Pierre-Luc Dubois saga in Columbus finally ended: the player was traded alongside a third round pick at the 2022 NHL Draft to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic

The two San Jose Sharks home games were moved to Glendale, Arizona.

Per Elliotte Friedman some NHL teams expressed their interest in the Montreal Canadiens defenceman Victor Mete, after he lost his spot in the line-up this season.