The injuries seem to be piling up at the blueline. Every Lightning fan had their heart in their throat when they saw Victor Hedman crawling on the ice after an awkward fall along the boards in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The good news is that the Norris-trophy defenseman made it back into, and finished the game. The same couldn’t be sad for his sometimes defensive partner, Jan Rutta.
Rutta left with a lower-body injury and didn’t return to the game. He joins Ryan McDonagh and Erik Cernak as blueliners currently dealing with an injury. Hopefully, McDonagh is back for the next game, but even with his return, the blueline is incredibly thin for the top team in the Central Division. Thin enough that it might be time for Ben Thomas to make his NHL debut.
The good news is that there is time for the players to heal. It’s better that this happens with 20+ games left in the season as opposed to two weeks before the playoffs. There are also two weeks before the trade deadline should Julien BriseBois feel the need to bolster his depth on defense. While there might not be much room cap-wise, that’s a hurdle he’s dealt with a couple of times during his short tenure. Who knows, maybe after two-thirds of a somewhat decent season, Tyler Johnson has some trade value at this point.
Adversity is never fun to deal with, but it often makes a team better. With the defense as banged up as they are, perhaps it forces the rest of the team to focus on defense. A more team-centric approach to keeping the puck out of the net could get the team back on track to their winning ways.
The Lightning started strong but ran into a solid goaltending performance.
On the other side of the ice, relief and surprise were the emotions of the day.
The Lightning’s ECHL affiliate dropped two out of three games to end March.
Victor Hedman is number one. There, now you don’t have to get angry. I currently don’t have an ESPN+ subscription so I’m not sure what the gap was between Hedman and the second place finisher.
An offensively-gifted defenseman who occasionally defends in his own zone is available on the waiver wire. Will there be any takers? Probably not due to his cap hit, but it’s always fun to speculate, right?
The inside story of getting traded (subscription required)
NHL’ers tell the stories of having their lives upended by trades. JT Miller had to deal with it not once, but twice within about a year.
He’s scored 11 goals in his last 11 games to trim Auston Matthews lead to just five goals. Not bad for a guy with grey hair.
Not a great look for the best player in the league. It’ll be interesting to see how the league handles the discipline.