Victor Hedman took part in a full practice yesterday morning, and could return for the Tampa Bay Lightning for Thursday’s contest against the Nashville Predators. The towering defenseman has been on the shelf since December 5, when he was hit into the boards early in the game.
He sustained a lower-body injury of some kind, and has missed Tampa’s last six contests. The team has gone 3-1-2 with Hedman on the sidelines, but the team has a clear hole on the blue line without him.
Head coach Jon Cooper spoke to Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Bay Tribune about missing Hedman on the back end:
Take your best defenseman out, a guy that plays 25 minutes a night, that’s almost half the game, and he’s a horse for us back there, so of course we’ve missed him, but you can’t complain. We have to find a way to win with guys like Hedman and (Steven) Stamkos out. Is it ideal? No, but we can’t have any excuses. We have to find a way.
Hedman also spoke to the Tribune about how anxious he is to return against Nashville:
That would be awesome if I could play then, but I don’t know. I have to be smart too. I’m not going to go back and risk anything, so I have to make sure that I’m 100 percent. But today felt good, and if nothing happens (Tuesday) or tomorrow, then obviously that’s something that I want to do is play as soon as possible, so we’ll see.
If he doesn’t return against the Predators, Hedman’s next chance to play will come on December 21 against the Carolina Hurricanes.