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NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

Injuries Mounting At Inopportune Time For Tampa Bay Lightning

Ryan Malone is Ready For Third Period to Get Underway

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This might sound familiar, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are enduring injuries to key players at a very bad time.

As it stands today, Tampa Bay has captain Vincent Lecavalier on the shelf with what’s believed to be a fractured foot, and Benoit Pouliot missing tons of time with an upper-body injury sustained March 2 against his former team, the Boston Bruins.

Now, add top young defenseman Victor Hedman and forward Ryan Malone to that ever-growing list, as Tampa Bay Times Lightning beat writer Damien Cristodero reports Hedman has an undisclosed upper-body injury and is listed day-to-day, while Malone’s out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury. Both were the result of hits laid by Philadelphia Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo.

Of course, these injuries come at a very inopportune time for the Lightning, as Pouliot, Lecavalier and Hedman all seemed to be turning a corner in terms of their production.

Pouliot had 14 points and the best plus/minus rating among team forwards at plus-7 prior to being sidelined, while Lecavalier was placed on injured reserve following one of his best games, recording two points and a plus-1 rating in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers March 12.

Meanwhile, Hedman’s 14 points top all team defenseman, and his plus-10 rating is second only to Sami Salo. Malone, on the other hand, has played in only 16 games this season so it’s hard to assess his overall performance.

The Lightning, currently sitting in 11th place,  are also trying to make a late playoff push. That won’t be easy though, as many key contributors aren’t playing due to injury. Granted, Lecavalier and Hedman should be back before the season ends, so there’s a little good news.

Another thing that should help Tampa Bay is the overall great play shown by the seven — four of them recent — call-ups from AHL Syracuse. To illustrate this, the line of Dana Tyrell, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat has combined for 10 points in eight or fewer NHL games. Big bruiser Radko Gudas has contributed as well, with a plus-1 rating and numerous big hits in just four big league games.

Either way, the Lightning will need other guys to step up and fill the holes these injuries left. It may seem tough, but overcoming adversity and proving critics wrong is something Tampa Bay’s used to.

 

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning and NHL writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and join her Google network.