Nikita Kucherov suffered a groin injury in Saturday night’s Tampa Bay Lightning’s win over the Washington Capitals while trying to deflect a Capitals player away from the puck on a breakout. He immediately felt something was wrong and left the game.
Today during the first team practice since the game, the initial word on the injury is that it’s not positive and surgery could be involved. Kucherov had hip surgery last season and missed all of the 56-game regular season. At the moment it’s unclear how long Kucherov will be out; he is reportedly trying to see a specialist to determine whether surgery is needed or not.
Hearing the initial word on Nikita Kucherov is not positive and surgery could be involved. Assuming that's accurate, I'd expect him to miss some time moving forward, should know more later today #GoBolts #TBLightning— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) October 18, 2021
No official @TBLightning update on Nikita Kucherov, probably because they don’t know yet. Trying to schedule with a specialist to determine next step, whether surgery is required. Team practicing today and has two games this week. https://t.co/VSYs2jsvgg— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) October 18, 2021
Kucherov’s health has obviously been a hot spot in the hockey sphere after he missed all of last season with his hip injury. Lots of conspiracy theories got flown out about whether he was really injured, if the Lightning were dragging out his rehab, or whatnot. He was actually hurt (the NHL even checked!), other players with the same injury were out for similar amounts of time, so if you gave even a moment’s attention to that nonsense give your head a shake. And now with this next injury, the jokes are back. The Lightning aren’t the mafia, JBB isn’t the Godfather.
The Lightning were in a division last season where they almost missed the playoffs. They have a less-deep team on paper this year and are in an even harder division. It’s very possible now that Kucherov is out that they’re going to be fighting for a wild card spot. The sooner the Lightning can get Kucherov back the better, and that’s a fact.
Everyone will make LTIR jokes if Kucherov is out.— Andrew Weiss (@WeissHockeyTalk) October 18, 2021
But people forget that he is one of the best players in the NHL, had major hip surgery, missed an entire regular season in his prime, and could miss more time. If he's hurt, the sport is worse off.
He's human. This stuff sucks.
In terms of moving forward, here’s what the Lightning are doing on the power play and Geo has some ideas about what to do with the first line. Corey Perry took line rushes with Point and Palat during practice.
Corey Perry has jumped onto the top line with Kucherov absent. Here are the rest of the #GoBolts lines:— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) October 18, 2021
Sounds like the news on Kucherov isn't great. Gonna miss some time. Question now is who jumps up to the first line? Do you move Stamkos up there and Joseph to the 2nd line? Maybe give Perry a shot for a game or two to see how he fits?— GeoFitz (@GeoFitz4) October 18, 2021
The first week of the season has given the Lightning a hard dose of reality. In terms of their offense, this is a one-line team with Stamkos and maybe a few other depth guys pitching in. They aren’t three lines deep anymore. With this Kucherov injury, that’s half the driving force for the first line gone. Despite a hot start Stamkos might not be what he used to be, and while he is likely as good of a replacement as you could get right now, it means the following three lines are more exposed.
Players are going to need to step up big. That includes Cirelli, Joseph, Colton, Perry, and hopefully a rookie too. Alex Barre-Boulet isn’t here anymore so we can’t harp on that, but it does suck that the offensive depth on this team has taken another hit.
Editor’s Note - Hi. It’s your friendly neighborhood managing editor, Justin. I just want to say, if the only reason you’re stopping by is to make a comment about cap circumvention, go ahead and assume we’ve already heard all versions of the joke and save yourself some time by not posting it. Thanks!
Editor’s Note #2 - If you think, like I do, that having to go a lengthy time without one of the best players in the game is some royal Number One B.S., well there is a shirt that can help you express your anger. Buy it here. Use the promo code “RAWCHARGE” and save a few bucks.