The Tampa Bay Lightning are getting a boost to their lineup tonight with the return of Victor Hedman, according to Dave Randorf, the team’s play-by-play commentator. Hedman missed the team’s past two games after crashing heavily into the boards against the Carolina Hurricanes last weekend. The 6-foot-7 defenseman is having a solid season with six goals and 42 points in 60 games, but it is a bit off his pace after he put up 85 points last season. Still, the team leans heavily on their star defender who is averaging 23:59 per night which leads the team.
The Lightning have not been playing their best hockey lately, so they will be happy to have Hedman back. The team is 1-4-2 in their past seven games and though they appear destined to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round once again, they will need to get back on track in a hurry if they want to gain home-ice advantage in that series. The Lightning are currently four points back of the Leafs in the standings.
- The Florida Panthers announced Anthony Duclair will be in the lineup tonight. Duclair missed last night’s overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks with an illness, but is good to go this evening as the Panthers host the Winnipeg Jets. The Panthers are scratching and clawing for every point as they sit four points back of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Duclair has been limited to just five games this season after suffering an achilles tendon injury in the offseason, and has added three points in those games.
- The Carolina Hurricanes finally get to welcome Jesse Puljujarvi to the lineup this evening. Nearly two weeks after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers, the Finnish winger will play his first game in Carolina. He dealt with some visa issues that delayed his arrival, and then joined the team in Montreal just before they faced the Canadiens on Tuesday. The coaching staff elected to have him settle in and practice with the team for a few days before finally taking the ice on the fourth line tonight with Paul Stastny and Stefan Noesen.