The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without defenseman Victor Hedman on Thursday against Pittsburgh — and the club isn’t sure when he’ll be back.
Hedman, 22, hasn’t been on the ice since suffering an undisclosed lower-body injury during last Thursday’s 5-0 shellacking of Carolina, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Lightning head coach John Cooper has already ruled him out for Thursday’s game, and it doesn’t appear a timetable has been set for Hedman’s return.
The Swedish rearguard has been one of the consistent bright spots for the Lightning this year, remaining mostly healthy and playing well in a season where injuries and spotty play have derailed the Bolts.
He sits second among all defensemen in points (16) and time on ice per game (22.22), and is third on the team with a plus-eight rating.
More importantly, he’d been healthy prior to this latest injury setback.
The team has been decimated this year by ailments to Vincent Lecavalier (missed nine games), Ryan Malone (missed 22) and goalie Anders Lindback (still out with an ankle sprain).
Those injuries played a big part in the Bolts getting off to a 13-18-1 start under Guy Boucher, who was fired in late March.
The team has since played well under new bench boss Cooper — posting a 4-2-1 record — and still finds itself mathematically alive in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Tampa Bay has nine games left in the season and is six points back of the eighth-place Rangers, but does have a tough road ahead. The Lightning play four of their next five on the road, and have a woeful 6-13-0 road record this season.
One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.
On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.
The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.
“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”
The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”
“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”
As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:
Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.
Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.
Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.
Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.
The St. Louis Blues have assigned two forwards, Magnus Paajarvi and Ty Rattie, and two defensemen, Chris Butler and Petteri Lindbohm, to AHL Chicago.
The moves mean that the Blues will have two young d-men, Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko, on the opening-day roster, after both impressed in camp.
From the Post-Dispatch:
Lindbohm and Butler looked to be the sixth and seventh defensemen, in that order, at the start of camp, but the play of Edmundson and Parayko won them spots. Parayko had six assists in the preseason, putting him among the NHL leaders.
Forward Robby Fabbri will also be on the opening-day roster. The 19-year-old is not eligible for the AHL; he can only be returned to junior.
Earlier today, the Blues announced the signing of forward Scottie Upshall.