With a month left in the season, the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals could potentially face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. The Bolts currently sit four points out of the second wild card spot, but were dealt a big blow on Thursday.
Tampa Bay lost three of their centers, Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Johnson, and Cedric Paquette, to lower-body injuries during their game against the Minnesota Wild.
The Lightning lost Vladislav Namestnikov first early in the second period. After Namestnikov collided with Zach Parise, the two players became entangled and slammed awkwardly into the boards. Namestnikov was helped off the ice and did not return to the game.
Approximately four minutes later, Tyler Johnson was forechecking and absorbed a brutal knee-on-knee hit by Nino Niederreiter. Johnson was also helped off the ice and did not return to the game.
Cedric Paquette completed the Lightning’s hat trick of injuries 11:22 into the third. After a swarm in front of the net, Paquette german-suplexed Nino Niederreiter. As he fell to the ice, Paquette’s left leg buckled and turned the wrong way. Paquette did not return to the game.
None of the three centers participated in the Lightning’s practice Friday. The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith reported that all three players were out day-to-day with lower-body injuries.
Day to day is a hard thing to interpret this time of year. Bishop was day day after Game 1 of ECF last spring + didn't return in series.
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) March 10, 2017
The Lightning are already without their best player, Steven Stamkos, who has not played a game since November 15th. Stamkos tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee. Doctors said Stamkos would be out four to six months. GM Steve Yzerman was recently quoted saying there is a possibility Stamkos could return this season.
#tblightning Yzerman said there's a chance Steven Stamkos plays this season. "Everything is moving along really well." No date set.
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) February 27, 2017
The Capitals’ potential first-round opponent for the playoffs changes almost daily. As of the time of publishing, the Capitals would match up again with the New York Islanders, but they could also match-up with Toronto, Philadelphia, or the aforementioned Lightning.
The Capitals have not won in either of the two playoff series they’ve been matched up with Tampa.
TB 7 points out of playoff spot with 1 game in hand. Can't think of worse 1st-Rd matchup for Caps than surging Lightning with Stamkos back. https://t.co/ZD0qQIR19w
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) February 27, 2017
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.