After today’s shutout loss at the hands of the New York Rangers, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Head coach Jon Cooper said after the game that injured forward Nikita Kucherov “is getting close” to returning, and the team hopes to have him back by the middle of the month. He was originally expected to miss two months after sustaining a lower-body injury after just three games this year, but that’s now turned into three months. He was averaging nearly 21 minutes a game and had four points in those three games, not missing a beat despite playing so little hockey over the past two years.
More injury notes from around the NHL:
- San Jose Sharks forward Rudolfs Balcers was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury back on December 5, but he’s still not back in the lineup. Sharks reporter Curtis Pashelka reports, however, that Balcers is still 1-2 weeks away from returning to the lineup. The Latvian forward had played well to start the year, tallying 10 points through 24 games. He’s developing into a solid middle-six piece for the Sharks, one that they’d like to get back into game shape as soon as they can.
- The Washington Capitals are missing two big names in Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie from today’s game against New Jersey, as they were held out of the lineup with non-COVID illnesses. Backstrom and Oshie have combined for just 19 games this season, so missed games are nothing new for them. They’ve both been productive when in the lineup, though, and at this point, it seems as though this may be the light at the end of the tunnel for them.