Jets star rookie Patrik Laine wasn’t the only player forced to depart his game after taking a big hit during the day’s early action. Checking winger J.T. Brown left Tampa Bay’s contest against Philadelphia in the third period after taking a shoulder/upper arm to the head courtesy of Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds wasn’t penalized on the play as the officials evidently deemed the hit to be inadvertent.
The two came together along the Tampa Bay blue line with Simmonds cutting in front of Brown, presumably making an effort to remain onside prior to going off the ice on a change as a Flyers teammate dumped the puck into the offensive zone. The Lightning winger, who has just four points in 36 games this season, didn’t see Simmonds coming and stayed on the ice for a couple of minutes after the hit.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that Lightning head coach Jon Cooper didn’t offer anything specific as to Brown’s condition after the game, saying just that it “didn’t look good to me.” Cooper also declined to comment on the hit itself, instead deferring to the league.
The Department of Player Safety reviews all plays of this nature and it’s conceivable Simmonds could face discipline. Replays do seem to show the Flyers leading goal scorer leaning in towards Brown just prior to contact. However, it doesn’t appear Simmonds has ever been fined by the DoPS, much less suspended; a fact which will likely work in his favor.
In other Lightning related news:
- With the Lightning currently on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, it’s time for Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman to do something to shake up a roster that all too often appears uninspired, opines Smith in a post for the Tampa Bay Times. However, like every other team looking to address their shortcomings via trade, Yzerman has found it difficult to find a deal to his liking: “If there was something I could have done to this point that would make our team better, I would have done it,” Yzerman said. “We’ll keep trying.” Smith argues the Lightning desperately need a top-four defenseman though that also seems to be high on the list for several other clubs, consequently adding to the challenge of finding a good fit. In Yzerman’s experience, it’s been tougher than ever to make a trade as teams are cognizant of the upcoming expansion draft as well as careful of taking on contracts with term remaining given the expectation of the salary cap remaining flat next season. Yzerman also cites the presence of so few obvious sellers as another factor it’s been so quiet on the trade front.