Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman left last night’s game at the tail end of the first period, after taking a hit to the head by Washington Capitals forward Carl Hagelin.
Hedman skated in to lay a hit on Hagelin against the boards, but Hagelin’s helmet appeared to make contact with Hedman’s face, causing his head to jolt back a bit and immediately bring his hands to his face. While Hagelin’s hit did not appear to be intentionally nasty, especially since it was Hedman coming in to make the initial contact, it sidelined Hedman for the remaining two periods of the game as he was likely put into concussion protocol.
Hedman is no stranger to concussions, suffering multiple over his career including in 2009 and 2011. Hedman also missed nearly two weeks earlier this season after taking a hard hit into the boards from Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves.
Meanwhile, the Lightning are no strangers to injuries, especially to their defensemen. Both Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman have been out since March 7. Fortunately, Jan Rutta has slotted in nicely alongside Braydon Coburn on the third D-men pairing.
Rutta may end up with more time in the lineup, at least for the next four regular-season games, depending on the extent of Hedman’s injury. Stralman is expected to make his return to the lineup on this regular season-ending road trip, which could not come at a better time, while Girardi will be out at least until the start of the playoffs.
We will see if Hedman even makes the trip with the team, which will certainly be an indicator of how drastic his injury truly is. There is no doubting the value Hedman provides his team on the ice and we all are hoping this injury is not something serious. But it could be best for the Bolts to take the precautionary road and sit their reigning Norris Trophy winner until the postseason.