Stomach flu makes Lightning’s Johnson a surprise scratch

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The Tampa Bay Lightning must face the New Jersey Devils without their under-the-radar star Tyler Johnson tonight, as he’s a late scratch thanks to a stomach flu, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reports.

He might not be the household name that Steven Stamkos is, yet Johnson hasn’t been that far behind his elite teammate from a scoring perspective in 2014-15. Johnson has 33 points in 33 games so far, just two points shy of Stamkos, who is currently tied for fifth overall in NHL scoring.

Johnson, 24, had played in 115 consecutive games heading into Friday, so it must be a pretty rough belly bug. It’s weird to be optimistic when someone’s dealing with a stomach flu, yet considering what’s beguiled the NHL, here’s hoping it’s just that and not the latest in a disturbingly long line of mumps sufferers.

(At this point that’s a default concern, even if some cases seem more likely than others.)

Here’s how the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith expects the team’s lines to look like without Johnson in the mix:

This comes right as the Lightning looked a little healthier heading into this game against the Devils, as Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat (another underrated gem among Lightning forwards) seem primed to return from their injury issues.