The Tampa Bay Lightning‘s hopes at making a late run toward the postseason just received a major hit, as TBO.com Lightning beat writer Erik Erlendsson announced earlier today that captain Vincent Lecavalier was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. It seems the injury occurred late in Tuesday night’s win over the Florida Panthers.
An integral part of the Lightning’s second line, Lecavalier has seven goals and 22 points in 26 games this season. He’s expected to miss at least seven days, though general manager Steve Yzerman told Erlendsson it will be longer.
Lecavalier will be replaced by Tyler Johnson, a youngster with no previous NHL experience. It’s not too surprising though, as Johnson’s 57 points lead the AHL‘s Syracuse Crunch. He also tops the entire AHL with 31 goals, and has an amazing plus-25 rating.
Johnson will wear number 63, and should make his big league debut tonight against the New York Islanders in Tampa.
Tampa Bay is already without forward Tom Pyatt, who left Tuesday night’s game with the Panthers early and is listed as day-to-day. Forward Benoit Pouliot remains out as well after suffering an upper-body injury during the first period of a Mar. 2 game versus his former team, the Boston Bruins. Not exactly what a playoff hopeful team needs.
Regardless, the Lightning will have to make their run minus three key forwards. They can do it, but must rely on Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis to lead the way, while also getting more contributions out of Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone and others.
Either way, a win streak must begin tonight if Tampa Bay hopes to make any sort of run at the postseason.