Tampa Bay Lightning F Ondrej Palat returns to practice in regular jersey

(Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat is making strides towards his return to the ice as he returns to practice on Wednesday without the red no-contact jersey.

The Tampa Bay Lightning may be getting some much-needed relief in the very near future. For the first time since suffering a Lower-Body Injury on January 20 against the Minnesota Wild, Lightning forward Ondrej Palat has returned to practice with the team without a red no-contact jersey.

Palat was finally able to dig deep and get involved in puck battles with his teammates and start to get a feel for the ice once again. Getting in real ice time is going to be essential for Palat if he is to be in top condition by the time the postseason starts in mid-April.

Needless to say, Palat was very happy to be able to get down to business once again and start to truly make strides towards a return. One of the highlights for the 26-year-old winger was the ability to truly be a part of the team once again.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

“Yeah, it’s good. I was in a normal color today,” Palat told the media. “I could do battles and everything. So, it’s nice to be part of the team again and have a good practice.”

Unfortunately, there is a bit of slightly bad news here. At this point, there has been no official word as to when Ondrej Palat will be able to make his return to the ice. According to the man himself, he has not be made aware of any official return date. This means we are in one of those dreaded “wait and see” kind of situations.

Ondrej Palat getting back into the lineup could be a total game changer for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning Insider Erik Erlendsson posted a stat today which may shock some people here in the Bolts Nation. Then again, if you have followed Palat for any period of time, this really won’t come as much of a surprise.

As Erlendsson said, this is not the sole reason for the disparity in goals as of late, but it sure offers a lot of perspective as to the amount of impact a player like Palat has on the team and the results of his absence.

One of the saddest parts of this whole ordeal is it’s something which was completely avoidable and absolutely did not have to happen. If not for the absolutely irresponsible play of Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, the Lightning may not have been without Palat for what is about to be eight weeks of play.

In case you missed the events that lead to Palat’s injury, an article from a Czech sports site posted a short video of what happened. Needless to say, the video is almost cringeworthy. The minute Palat went down it was plain to see something was very wrong.

Despite missing eight weeks thanks to his Lower-Body Injury, Palat continues to remain in the Lightning’s Top 10 in terms of points. In the 46 games Palat played up until his injury, he brought home eight goals and 22 assists for a total of 30 points and boasts a plus-17 rating.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has a tough task in front of them as they make their way through the final games of the 2017-18 season. The remainder of the schedule is not going to be kind to the Bolts and if they want to remain where they are in the standings, they will definitely have to bring their ‘A’ game every single night.

On Saturday night, the Lightning faces one of their biggest challenges. The Lightning will open the doors to the Amalie Arena to kick off a back-to-back weekend series against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are a mere four points behind the Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings.

A loss to the Bruins would allow them to gain even more ground and make the road to the postseason that much more difficult. This is especially true considering the Lightning have three meetings with the Bruins (including their matchup on Saturday night) in the final 12 games of the regular season. 

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Again, it is unknown at this point as to the exact moment Ondrej Palat will be able to rejoin his teammates on the ice; however, it is definitely reassuring he has shed the red no-contact jersey and is able to get in real workouts with the team. This will make his transition back to the roster a little easier.