As the Tampa Bay Lightning sit “home” and await the winner of the Flyers and Islanders series, they hope the time off is enough to get one of their best players back… Nikita Kucherov.
Kucherov was sidelined in the first period of the Lightning’s double-overtime game five win over the Boston Bruins when he took a stick up high from Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara. He made a brief appearance in the second period but did not return after that. And, give the NHL’s policy on injury reporting during bubble play, the extent of Kucherov’s injury is unknown.
However, he was on the ice on Thursday as the Bolts prepare for their opponent.
“A good skate,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said in a Zoom conference. “He was there, participated. As for anything after that, we don’t know our opponent, let alone when we’re playing.”
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Fortunately for the Bolts, the depth stepped up in Kucherov’s absence. In fact, they have played a huge role in Tampa getting back to the Eastern Conference Finals. Especially considering they have been without Steven Stamkos for the entirety of the playoffs. However, losing Kucherov for an extended period of time could prove costly. Currently, he sits second on the team with 16 playoff points, just two shy of leader Brayden Point. During the Bolts Stanley Cup run during the 2014-15 season, Kucherov led the team with 22 points in 26 games.
In 78 total playoff games with Tampa, Kucherov has tallied 33 goals and added 44 assists. He has eight game-winning goals in that time.