When Nikita Kucherov was last sidelined due to injury, it took him the entire 2020-21 regular season to recover. This time around, the absence won’t be nearly as long for the 2018-19 Hart Trophy winner. Kucherov is right on track to return from the lower body injury he suffered back in October, for which he was given an eight-to-ten week recovery period after undergoing surgery. NHL.com reports that Kucherov was back at practice for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, his first time skating with the team since he was injured on October 16 – exactly seven weeks to the day. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was quick to qualify the appearance, stating that “this does not trigger anything new on his timeline; he’s still quite a ways off.” However, getting Kucherov back on the ice is the first major step toward getting the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs back to full strength. The Lightning are enjoying another solid season, even with Kuckerov and Brayden Point on the shelf, but are well behind the rival Florida Panthers for the lead in the Atlantic Division and could use the boost that a Kucherov return will bring to get back into the mix for the Eastern Conference crown.
- The Boston Bruins are still waiting on clarification on the injury to defenseman Jakub Zboril in their last game on Thursday night. Zboril took an awkward check from Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot and appeared to injure his knee. He was helped off the ice and did not return in what seemed to be a serious incident. However, the team has made no definitive statement as to Zboril’s status just yet. Boston only announced that Zboril will not play on Saturday night and will be re-evaluated in the coming days, which could mean that the injury was not as severe as it seems or it could simply be that they have not yet determined the severity. The hope is that Zboril can return as soon as possible, as the blue liner is playing the best hockey of his NHL career providing consistent and dependable play on the back end. With Zboril finally flashing the ability that made him a first-round pick in 2015, the Bruins want to keep that momentum going if at all possible.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the specifics have been revealed on the injury to Philadelphia Flyers forward Joel Farabee. The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor reports that Farabee has suffered a Grade II AC sprain in his shoulder. The typical recovery from the injury is up to six weeks, which O’Connor notes lines up with what Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault had initially suggested, even though Farabee was considered “week-to-week”. Philly will have to make do through at least the rest of the calendar year without the young scorer, who is tied for the team lead in goals.