Lightning ECF: 5 Questions Heading Into Eastern Conference Final and Series Predictions

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: Corey Perry #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Rangers during the third period at the Amalie Arena on December 31, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: Corey Perry #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Rangers during the third period at the Amalie Arena on December 31, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning, right, looks up at the video board of a replay of his goal against the Florida Panthers as he celebrates with Mikhail Sergachev #98, Zach Bogosian #24, and Brandon Hagel during the third period in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning, right, looks up at the video board of a replay of his goal against the Florida Panthers as he celebrates with Mikhail Sergachev #98, Zach Bogosian #24, and Brandon Hagel during the third period in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

Is the rest of the team healthy?

While Brayden Point’s injury headlines the injury concerns for Tampa Bay, the health of the rest of the team is largely unknown at this point – as per usual in the playoffs.

What we do know is that Mikhail Sergachev and Brandon Hagel missed multiple practices between the end of the Florida series and Game 1 of the ECF. Both were banged up after blocking shots in the Florida series.

Sergachev has been practicing for a few days now, but Hagel only returned to practice yesterday, the day before Game 1. Even then he did leave the ice briefly before returning to rejoin the rest of the team.

If Hagel is unable to go to begin the series, or at any time during, it is possible we will see prospect Cole Koepke make his NHL debut in his place. Koepke, a former 2018 sixth-round draft pick of the Lightning, had an impressive rookie season with the Syracuse Crunch this year scoring 20 goals and 19 assists in 69 games.

Should Koepke get the nod, he would ideally be able to jump right into Hagel’s left wing position on the third line since he has filled that spot in the practices that Hagel has missed.