The Tampa Bay Lightning have dealt with a few injuries to their blueline so far this season. The good news is that the time missed by Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta hasn’t been too lengthy. Hopefully, the same can be said for their latest dalliance with the injury bug. In Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers, Ryan McDonagh left the game in the first period with a suspected lower-body injury and didn’t return.
After the game, Coach Jon Cooper didn’t have an update on the the status of his veteran defender, so plunging into a panic about him missing a significant amount of time is a bit premature at this point. If he is out for more than a game or two, it would be a big loss for the Bolts. McDonagh currently logs 22:29 of ice time, second only to Victor Hedman.
While he doesn’t have the offensive output of his Swedish teammate (2 goals, 6 assists), McDonagh is a solid rock of a player for the Lightning. He is far and away the team leader in blocked shots with 63, rocks a 54.2% CF, and starts 57.2% of his shifts in the defensive zone. Yes, that’s tops on the team (excluding MItchell Stephens extremely small sample size).
If he’s out, expect Mikhail Sergachev to pick up the most minutes, as he would most likely slide into the second slot on the left side behind Hedman. Andreas Borgman would most likely cycle back into the line-up as well. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be surprising for Coach Cooper to also activate Luke Schenn and roll with an 11/7 line-up to help control the defensemen’s minutes.
It’ll be an all hands on deck situation especially shorthanded. McDonagh logs the most ice time out of any player (3:09 per game) and is out there 53% of the time the Lightning are down a player. That’s a lot of stressful time to fill (and where shotblocking really comes into play). On Sunday, every defenseman, including Cal Foote, spent some time shorthanded. That will be the expectation moving forward as long as McDonagh is out of the line-up.
Again, it’s too early to speculate on the nature or length of the injury, but it may present a bit of a problem for the Lightning moving forward.
The backup goalie gave the team exactly what they needed - a chance to win. He doesn’t have to match Andrei Vasilevskiy’s place, just keep the team in the game long enough for the offense to take over. That’s what he did on Sunday.
Words from people after the game:
Jon Cooper does a good job of blaming the rule, not the refs on the high-stick call. He also talks about how tough it was to play without McDonagh in the second and third period.
Jon Cooper talks after the @TBLightning 5-3 win over Florida about Curtis McElhinney's performance, playing without Ryan McDonagh in the 2nd and 3rd, the team effort in the win and more. #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/pPdU4dyJVO— FOX Sports Bolts (@FOXSportsBolts) March 21, 2021
Alex Killorn chips in with how impressed he was by his teammates during the five-in-seven stretch of games.
Alex Killorn talks about Curtis McElhinney's performance, the tension between the Bolts and Florida, losing Ryan McDonagh early on and more after the @TBLightning 5-3 win.— FOX Sports Bolts (@FOXSportsBolts) March 21, 2021
Watch the Bolts postgame show on FOX Sports Sun! #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/eHRVuVKU7V
Notes from our friends at the Lightning:
- The Lightning are 4-0-1 in the second half of back-to-backs this season.
- They posted a record of 4-1 during their stretch of five games in seven days.
- Alex Killorn has six goals in his last eleven games.
- Twelve different Lightning players registered at least one point.
Right now Fleury is probably Andrei Vasilevskiy’s top rival for the Vezina Trophy so far this season. The veteran went from the trading block to saving the Golden Knights season.
The younger brother of Quinn and Jack, Luke is probably a top-ten pick in the 2021 NHL draft. He missed the US National Development Team’s March 21st game and is rumored to be out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. At this point t’s too early to see how it affects his draft status.
TVR must have made quite an impression in the...checks stats...nine games he’s played for the Caps this season. He’s a veteran and at an annual average value of $950,000 it’s nice depth for Washington.
Roy, a young defenseman for the KIngs, is getting a nice little bump from his $700,000 salary. Starting next season, the seventh round pick from the 2015 draft, will be pulling in an AAV of $3.15 million over the next three years.
Weird stat to highlight, right? Well, it’s also the number of games his father, Peter, played during his 15-season career. While Paul will eclipse his dad’s amount of games played, the old man shouldn’t be worried about his kid catching him in the points department. Peter ended up with 1,239 points (450 goals, 789 assists) while Paul has 744 (259 goals, 485 assists). Slightly different eras for play.