Hedman finally got in a full practice with the team on December 17th. This was a good sign, and a huge sigh of relief for Bolts fans everywhere. While defenseman Radko Gudas has done a great job of holding down the fort in Hedman’s absence; however, there have definitely been some defensive inconsistencies that could greatly benefit from Hedman’s return.
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.”
As many of you already know, Hedman has been sidelined since December 5th when he was ran into the boards early in the game against 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.
Are you excited to see Hedman’s return to the ice tonight? How do you think it will affect the Lightning’s defense? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.