The Tampa Bay Lightning have quite a hill to climb in regards to their playoff hopes. Now they must try and do it without their second-best defenseman Victor Hedman for who knows how long, something which could turn that hill into a mountain.
Hedman played only the first period of last Thursday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes before leaving with a lower-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day but has already been ruled out of his fourth straight game, including tomorrow night versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. There’s also no timetable for his return.
Losing Hedman for any amount of time hurts the Lightning, who have seen their fair share of injuries to key contributors thus far this season. This is because he’s calm and poised with the puck defensively, evidenced by his career best plus-8 rating in 36 games. Granted, the offseason addition of veteran Sami Salo certainly helped that.
There’s also his ability to produce offensively. Before suffering this setback, Hedman led all Tampa Bay defenseman with 16 points. Even with the injury he’s second among team defenseman, only two points behind Matt Carle.
While the Lightning have survived (barely) minus Hedman, their slim postseason hopes won’t be for long if this injury is serious because they spend way too much time in their own zone. Of course, that doesn’t help the team’s chances of winning because it’s hard to score goals when your opponent has control of the puck.
We’ll have to see how much longer this injury sidelines Hedman. But if he misses more than just these four games, it’s safe to say the Lightning’s already slim hopes of earning a playoff spot just got a whole lot tougher.