Lightning's Johnson, Namestnikov, Paquette all day-to-day
The news on the Lightning injuries appears encouraging, with Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette all considered day-to-day with lower body injuries, the team announced today.
But there still doesn't seem to be a definite timetable on when any of the centers will be back. None of them practiced Friday and it would be surprising to see any of them play Saturday against the Panthers at Amalie Arena.
"They all looked bad," associate coach Rick Bowness said. "Only time will tell, we'll see how that goes."
Johnson, Namestnikov and Paquette all had to be helped off the ice at different times, all appearing to be favoring their left leg. Bowness, who has been behind the bench for more than 2,000 NHL games, hasn't seen anything like it.
"Not three centerman go down like that," Bowness said. "Sometimes you get banged out there and it's a stinger and it goes away after 10-15 minutes, but that wasn't the case last night. That was very rare."
It was impressive to see the Lightning find a way to hold on for a 4-1 victory over the Western Conference leading Wild. "They didn't let the injuries stop them from competing and stop playing the game," Bowness said. "But is it tough to overcome, absolutely."
As for how the Lightning plans to adjust, there were some hints at Friday's practice. Rookie Brayden Point moved up to the No. 1 center spot, between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. Fellow rookie Yanni Gourde is centering the second line with Jonathan Drouin and Alex Killorn. Greg McKegg centered a fourth line. There still could be a callup too.
Bowness said Drouin and Killorn could play center, too.
"We'll see how it shakes out tomorrow night," Bowness said.
There was an upbeat mood around the Lightning room Friday, with players not believing these injuries are season-ending.
"With a lot of them, the way they kind of happened, you think they're pretty serious because of twisted knees,'" Killorn said. "Luckily none of them are too bad. Guys are going to have to step up, like we've done before."