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Lightning Round: Erik Cernak won’t return until after Christmas

The Bolts are doing great without their leaders

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been hit by injuries quiet seriously in the recent weeks and recent news didn’t bring much relief either as Jon Cooper announced yesterday that Erik Cernak won’t return until after Christmas and is in the week-to-week category

The Slovak defenceman hasn’t played since the last Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins after he blocked a shot with his right foot. Cernak was initially expected to return before the end of the current road trip, but further evaluation ruled out that possibility. It wasn’t the first injury of the season for Cernak as he previously missed eight games due to a hand injury and returned just three games prior to the recent injury. He also missed ten games last season due to various injuries.

Cernak joins forwards Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, who are also sidelined until the new year. Anthony Cirelli, who also missed the last game due to injury caused by a blocked shot, is in day-to-day category and could potentially return for tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators, although Jon Cooper wasn’t very optimistic

Despite being very depleted in the past weeks, the defending Stanley Cup champions continue their hot run. After beating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Lightning extended their winning streak to five games and are tied with the Leafs in the standings, while having played two games less. Since the start of November, the Lightning are tied with the Minnesota Wild for the highest point percentage in the league (.806%), losing just two games in regulation.

Lightning Links

The Syracuse Crunch defeated the Charlotte Checkers on Friday night. Alex Barré-Boulet scored his first AHL goal of the season, after being reassigned to Syracuse by the Lightning.

Unfortunately the Orlando Solar Bears had been beaten 0-4 by the Atlanta Gladiators last night.

The Lightning’s prospect Daniil Pylenkov scored his third goal of the year in the KHL yesterday.

Hockey News

The results of the previous gameday. The Philadelphia Flyers ended their ten-game losing streak, the Vancouver Canucks improved to 3-0-0 since hiring Bruce Boudreau.

The NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the salary cap will be raised to $82.5 million next year.

Reportedly, the salary cap could be significantly increased in 2024-25 season

Gary Bettman also denied rumors that the Arizona Coyotes could be relocated due to financial issues.

Other details from the Board of Governors meeting: