Despite the recent alternating between Adam Erne and Ryan Callahan within the Tampa Bay fourth line, it was Mathieu Joseph that received the scratch for Saturday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.
This was the rookie’s first match out of the lineup since the Feb. 27 game against the New York Rangers when Callahan was put in to face his former team. The Bolts were playing younger forwards Erne and Joseph more consistently over the veteran Callahan since the NHL All-Star break after the team made it known that they wanted to prioritize giving their younger core more opportunities.
Earlier in the season, there was an ongoing rotation between the three forwards for the two winger spots on the fourth line, and now it appears the team may be back to that process.
Joseph’s grit and more notably, his speed, were certainly missed in the game as the Caps outskated the Lightning nearly all night.
It would be very surprising to see Joseph remain out of the lineup for the Bolts’ upcoming regular season-ending road trip, as this 12th versus 13th-man battle needs to remain between the Erne and Callahan.
In his first NHL season, Joseph ranks in the Lightning’s Top-5 in hits with 117 and is seventh on the Tampa Bay roster in shooting percentage. In 66 game appearances, Joseph has logged 13 goals, 12 assists and a plus-seven rating. Expect to see him back in the lineup for the Lightning’s next game against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.