Losing a player the caliber of Victor Hedman is NEVER a good thing.... but if there was ever a situation where losing a star defenseman was "timed just right", this might be it.
Bolts will start their bye week, followed closely by the All Star Break.... analysts were saying the total number of scheduled games Hedman could miss may only be about 10-12 total when you factor in the bye, breaks, and the TB schedule.
This means the Bolts will need to fill his minutes by committee.
They have NO ONE who can take Hedman's place by themselves, but if they play a strong team defense, they have players good enough, so that the impact of his loss will, at the very least, be softened a bit.
Having Dan Girardi out too (he isn't expected to be out too much longer) stings a bit more on the Hedman front as well.........ahh, but there again is the bye week to help out. Again...NOT a good thing to lose established vets and star players, but if you must, these breaks sure are helpful.
The Lightning have also built up that real big lead, and if they can even just tread water, they will lose some of that lead, but should be healthy in time to continue to maintain it.
Stralman, Sergachev, Coburn, Dotchin, Sustr, Koekkoek, and Girardi when he gets back.
That's 7 NHL defensemen who will have to step up their games in Hedman's absence.
Not ideal, but doable.
TB also has one or two guys from Syracuse who can get called up as well if it comes to that (thinking Ben Thomas, Dominik Masin, Mat Bodie, or even Matt Spencer) plus, they do have some cap room, could always pry away some low cost, middling type defender from another team, again, if need be.
Bolts have been pretty fortunate to this point regarding man games lost to injury. This would be their first big one this season.
I think it's time to test these guys and see if they really can live up to that "Stanley Cup Favorite" moniker.
Real Stanley Cup champions can, after all, stand up to losing a good player here and there by having depth and other guys add up to a bit more than the sum of their parts
So here we are, Tampa Bay.