Bolts need Hedman to be better in Game 2

When Victor Hedman missed the final four games of the regular season, there was some doubt as to whether or not he’d be ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the end, he ended up being available on Wednesday but it was a rough introduction to the postseason for the defending Norris Trophy winner.

Sitting four games because of a concussion had a negative effect on him. It was obvious that he was going to have to shake some rust. In his return, he logged just over 25 minutes of ice time and he finished with a minus-1 rating, two shots on goal, two hits and two blocked shots.

The advanced stats don’t make this picture any prettier, either. Hedman played 18:55 at even-strength. He had a CF% of 41.94, which was the second-worst percentage for a Tampa defenseman in the game. He was exposed on David Savard‘s third-period tally, as the Blue Jackets defender put a great move on Hedman before scoring. You’d have to think that he wouldn’t have looked as bad if he was totally comfortable on the ice.

“I’m disappointed with myself, especially that second goal,” Hedman told The Athletic after Game 1. “I’ve got to make a better play. They got momentum out of it. I expect myself to be a lot better Friday.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

He was also on the ice for the Josh Anderson shorthanded goal that ended up tying the game, 3-3. Hedman defended the initial odd-man rush relatively well, but he was caught reaching on Anderson, who showed great patience on the play.

Hedman isn’t the only star on the roster that needs to be better. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos will have to find a way to contribute offensively if the Lightning are going to get back in this series tonight. But the focus will likely be on the big Swedish defender.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Scroll Down For: