With Tampa Bay Lightning fans waiting for word on the status of top defenseman Victor Hedman after the blueliner looked to twist his ankle Saturday during the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers, the injury report may have to wait until Monday. The Athletic’s Joe Smith reports that the team is off today and will practice Monday before likely starting the playoffs on Tuesday.
There is plenty of fear that the defenseman could miss significant time after Hedman frustratingly slammed his stick four times against the boards on his way into the dressing room. Smith (subscription required) writes that of all Tampa Bay players, including the injured Steven Stamkos, Hedman could be the one player the Lightning cannot do without. Hedman, a finalist for the Norris Trophy, for four years straight and the winner in 2017-18 and will be badly missed.
Incidentally, the Lightning’s depth is likely going to be tested on defense as the team only brought nine defensemen with them into the bubble. With Jan Rutta unfit to play so far in the playoffs, that leaves the team with just seven defenseman, which could be an issue if more injuries arise.
- Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said that forward Max Pacioretty has arrived “in the bubble,” and is expected to be ready to play for Game 1 of their playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal’s David Schoen. Pacioretty missed the round-robin series due to an undisclosed injury, but completed his quarantine with four negative tests and is expected to practice with the team on Monday. He is the team’s leader in scoring after tallying 32 goals and 66 points in 71 games this season.
- There was some debate on who should start in goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets for their Game 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. While Joonas Korpisalo has been given the nod, it turns out that another reason for that is because Elvis Merzlikins is injured and will not dress later today as Matiss Kivlenieks will step in as the backup, according to NHL.com’s Jeff Svoboda. Head coach John Tortorella said the goaltender, who was in net during the team’s late collapse in Game 4, is injured and “unfit to play,” according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline.
- With the Minnesota Wild having been eliminated, defenseman Ryan Suter was allowed to reveal to The Athletic’s Michael Russo that he injured his right foot during Game 3 of the team’s playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, that’s the same foot he had operated on back in 2018 when he broke his ankle. His MRI in Edmonton was incomplete due to the irritation to the injury. The team sat him to make sure he doesn’t injure it any further. Suter said he should be fine and is going to the doctor tomorrow to get it checked further.
- NHL.com’s Mike Morreale reports that the Arizona Coyotes could be getting back a key forward for the next round of the playoffs. Forward Nick Schmaltz, who missed the entire series with the Nashville Predators, participated in a full practice with the team Sunday and could be ready to return. The 24-year-old had 11 goals and 45 points for Arizona this season.
- After missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury, Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports that New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk practiced Sunday and is expected to be ready to play for the team’s upcoming series against the Washington Capitals. Boychuk only played in 5:17 of Game 1 before leaving due to injury against the Florida Panthers.