The Tampa Bay Lightning are down 3-0 in the first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets and will remain without Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.
Stralman has been out since the season finale and has missed every playoff game, and has already been ruled out for game 4. The loss of Stralman is a big blow, as they’ve dropped 4 straight games in his absence.
But Hedman, he’s a huge loss. He’s the best defenseman on the roster, eats up a lot of minutes, keeping guys like Jan Rutta off the ice, as he seems overwhelmed by the atmosphere.
With the two of them out at the same time? Now that’s major. Add to that, Alex Killorn, who is arguably the most clutch player on the Lightning roster, earning the nickname “Playoff Killorn”, is doubtful.
The Hedman injury wasn’t caught, but occurred in game 2. He has been a “game-time” decision until today, as he was immediately ruled out. Who knows how many more games Hedman will be out for, if the Lightning stay alive, but they need him, and they need him soon.
Stralman is a very good defenseman, who chips in well offensively, while being responsible in his own end. He’s also a veteran presence on the ice, and would help keep things under control on the bench.
Alex Killorn isn’t a big point producer, but when playoffs start? He’s one of the Lightning’s best, and he’s very vocal. He plays well in all aspects, driving the offense, winning one on one battles, playing physical, and, finally, being responsible in his own end.
These are huge losses, and there’s no one left on the roster who could possibly fill in.
Who Has Been Filling In?
Sure, Ryan McDonagh can fill in Stralman’s shoes, but he hasn’t been good in this series. Erik Cernak has been probably our best defenseman, but he doesn’t come close to what Hedman brings to the table, or the veteran presence and experience that Stralman has.
One thing that has been going well for the Lightning this season is their depth, and how their depth is the best in the league. In the playoffs though? Their depth isn’t producing, and losing your best defender and being without one of your best veterans on the back-end kills teams, regardless of depth.
They need an extra effort from every single player that steps out on the ice tonight, or they’re going to be headed to the golf course after 4 playoff games.
player profiles from hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals