I think it is safe to say that Tampa Bay Lightning fans breathed one collective sigh of relief today. The team announced on Twitter earlier today that the Lightning defenseman would rejoin the lineup tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum against Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators.
Hedman was finally able to get in a full practice with the team on Tuesday before the Bolts took on the New York Islanders in what turned out to be one of the most miraculous come from behind victories this year.
In Hedman’s absence, defenseman like Radko Gudas have done a good job of holding it down for the Bolts, but there are some obvious discrepancies in the defense that someone like Hedman would be perfect to clear up.
Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper spoke to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune about Hedman’s absence and how this has affected the defense.
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.”
Winning is something that the Lightning have definitely found a way to do so far this season. While Hedman has been out, the Lightning have split the games down the middle. With the exception of their 3-0 loss against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, the Lightning have always lost by a single point, both of those ending in a shootout.
Hedman has been sidelined since December 5th when he collided with the boards during the Lightning’s 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Prior to being sidelined by injury, the 6’6” Swedish defenseman suited up for 28 games with the Bolts. In that time, he netted himself 6 goals and 9 assists for a total of 15 points.
Fans will not have to wait much longer to see their favorite Swedish defenseman take the ice. The puck drops in Tampa Bay at 7:30 p.m.
For all the details on how you can watch and/or listen to tonight’s game, all you have to do is click right here.