Hedman took a spill into the endboards during Saturday’s 6-0 defeat at the Carolina Hurricanes and remained on the ice, favoring his lower back. He attempted to return to the game but skated a short shift before exiting for good.
While it’s never good to be without your number-one defenseman, Cooper’s announcement that Hedman’s injury isn’t long-term is a relief for those invested in the organization.
It’s not all bad news on the injury front for Tampa, too. Defenseman Erik Cernak is slated to return tonight after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. While his advanced metrics suggest a slip in his defense this year, the team still struggled to keep the puck out of the net in his absence, conceding 11 goals in those two games.
Haydn Fleury, a frequent healthy scratch this season, will draw into the lineup without Hedman available. The team will lean heavily on Mikhail Sergachev, who’s tied for the team lead in points from defensemen with Hedman, during what’s hopefully a short-term absence for the latter.
The 32-year-old Hedman has recorded six goals and 42 points in 60 games for the Lightning this season, skating nearly 24 minutes per game, down slightly from his totals the last two seasons.