If a 7-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t enough, the Tampa Bay Lightning now have to sit back and wait to hear word on how long they could be without two of their more important players.
Victor Hedman did not play in either the second or third period of last night’s blowout loss. Tyler Johnson last saw ice time a little more than half way through the second period. He had an assist on the Steven Stamkos goal.
While it is too early to tell how long they may be out, the Lightning have a quick turnaround tonight against the Boston Bruins, losing either for any amount of time would be a big blow.
Johnson and Hedman Injured: Who Needs To Step Up
Both are the leading their respective units in points, Johnson the top scoring forward for the Lightning – good sixth overall in the entire league – and Hedman has scored 20 points in 26 games played after missing time early in the season with a broken bone in his hand.
Since neither is expected to play tonight, the Lightning has recalled forward Vladislav Namestnikov from the Syracuse Crunch. The 22-year old defenseman from Russia has played in 24 games this year with the Lightning, scoring seven points (3 G, 4 A) in that time. While with the Crunch Namestnikov was scoring at over a point-per-game pace with 17 points in 16 games played.
While losing your top scorer is going to hurt anybody, even a team with Stamkos (odd that they aren’t one and the same) the loss of Hedman hurts even much so with Radko Gudas out already for at least four months after undergoing knee surgery.
Whether it is just for tonight, or any extended period of time here are some players that will need to step up in their absences.
Jason Garrison/Anton Stralman
Both were the team’s big offseason acquisitions, Stralman by the draft and Garrison via trade. In his time with the New York Rangers, Stralman evolved from an offensive defenseman to a true-blue two-way blue liner. He has shown both this season, sitting at a +15 and being in a tie with Hedman in defensive points (20).
Stralman has heated up recently on the score sheet, scoring six points in the past six, including two in last night’s game against the Flyers.
Garrison has scored 17 points this season in 40 games, but hasn’t registered a point in his previous six points. His booming shot is a weapon has not been able to utilize as often as he would like, scoring only three goals this year.
Both will be looked upon to take a bigger role in the offense without Gudas and now Hedman.
This is the ‘easy’ answer, as the third line center would of course be expected to step up his production should one of the team’s top two centers go down with an injury. With the success of Stamkos and Johnson it is easy to lose track of the season Filppula is having.
With 30 (8 G, 22 A) points in 44 games played, Filppula is on pace for a 52 points this season – a number that any team would love to see out of their third line center.
It is still soon to tell how long either will be out but the Lightning have shown that they do have depth, it is just time for them to step up on a consistent basis.
Anthony covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers. He is also currently a Featured Columnist for Last Word on Sports, and has held editorial positions on multiple Fansided websites and the now defunct The Farm Club.