ARGHHHHHHHHHH!!! NOOOO!!! NOT AGAIN!!!!!
That’s the sound you likely hear coming from a large majority of Bolts nation these past few days. And who can blame us after the nightmarish season we endured injury-wise just one year ago?
It all started early last week when hard-hitting defenseman Radko Gudas was a late scratch from the game against New Jersey. At the time it seemed precautionary; like he wouldn’t miss more than a game or two. Now, the worry has begun setting in with his status relatively unchanged as the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Calgary Flames last night minus Gudas.
Unfortunately, instead of stopping there the Bolts then received a crushingly big blow during Saturday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks, with top defenseman and team-leading scorer Victor Hedman injuring a finger on his right hand blocking a shot. The prognosis looked grim after the game, with head coach Jon Cooper saying the top blueliner was flying back to Tampa for further testing. That revealed a fractured finger, which will require surgery and sideline Hedman 4-6 weeks.
Monday against Edmonton brought more bad news, this time to the forward corps. Alex Killorn crashed hard into the boards during morning skate and, though he was expected to be alright for that nights game, plans changed. Top prospect Jonathan Drouin took his spot in the lineup, with Killer listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. Luckily, it doesn’t appear overly serious but his status for tonight’s matchup in Calgary could be in question, as Cooper said during last nights post game comments that ‘it would take a miraculous recovery overnight’ for him to be available tonight.
Ryan Callahan also succumbed to injury Monday, leaving the game against the Oilers late in the middle frame. He’s said to be week-to-week with a lower body injury, . The prospect of it being short-term, however, doesn’t look great considering the Bolts called up forward Mike Blunden from AHL Syracuse Tuesday morning. A corresponding move will need to be made, with Callahan one of three possible players that could end up on injured reserve. (UPDATE: Gudas was placed on IR, retroactive to last Monday Oct. 13)
Tuesday night against the Flames brought another potential injury, with Nikita Kucherov leaving following a huge blindside, suspendable hit by Mark Giordano. He was able to return for the third period though, a welcome sight to a team that’s running out of healthy bodies.
So much for staying mostly healthy, huh?
Now, I fully understand injuries are a part of hockey and every team goes through them. In saying that, this is insane. The Lightning are down to 10 healthy forwards and six healthy defenseman, excluding recent call-ups. The rate we’re going, bubble wrap may be the only way to protect this team.
Last year was extremely trying for this team, what with Steven Stamkos missing four months and Ben Bishop playing through numerous ailments, and this year looks to be more of the same.
Will the Lightning rise up, or fall victim to the brutal realities of this sport? Though no one can make such a prediction at this point in time, there’s no denying this team faces yet another test on their road to clinching a playoff berth come season’s end.