Hedman a quick healer after all, says he might play this weekend
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman has said he usually is a quick healer, and he seems to be proving it with his comeback from a lower-body injury sustained in the first period of the April 4 victory over the Hurricanes.
Hedman participated in the morning skate Thursday, and while he said he will not face the Penguins (his fourth game missed), he is shooting for a return Saturday against the Capitals. With no structural damage, both Hedman and coach Jon Cooper said Hedman's participation will be based on pain tolerance.
"I really want to play and I'll do whatever it takes to win," Hedman said, "but if I'm not 100 percent, or at least 90 percent, I can do more harm than good for the team on the ice. I have to be game-ready."
Cooper said the rest of the defensive corps has done well in Hedman's absence.
Eric Brewer, who is averaging 19:59 of ice time, has played more than 20 minutes in each of the past three games and has blocked eight shots. Matt Carle has played at least 24 minutes in each game and Sami Salo has played at least 22 minutes.
"We've done fairly well," Cooper said, and added about Hedman, "You pull out a (6 foot 6) skating defenseman that can add something all over the ice, those guys are hard to replace."
As for Hedman, who has four goals, 16 points and is plus-8 while averaging 22:22 of ice time in 36 games, Thursday's skate was the first time he has pushed himself since the injury.
"Trying to push myself to the limit to see where I can go," he said. "Today was one of those days I could do most stuff without feeling it. It was one of those good days."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected Ben Bishop gets his fifth straight start in net. He is 2-2-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .944 save percentage with the Lightning. ... Tampa Bay will go with the same lineup as it did Tuesday against the Senators. That means forwards Ben Pouliot, Tom Pyatt and Dana Tyrell are scratched. Cooper said not to read too much into the scratches, though Pouliot and Pyatt being scratched for a second straight games raised some eyebrows. But Cooper said, "Don't read too much into that," and added, "We're just caught between we're trying to win but we're also trying to see what we have, what guys can handle, what guys can play next year. It's tough to do. It's tough to balance. But I've approached these guys and said this is where we're at as an organization. This is for all of us. Pouliot, Pyatt and Tyrell, is this the last games they've played for us this year? Absolutely not. It's just their turn in the fire right now. They're being unreal soldiers, staying positive. I know they don't like it, but for right now this has to happen." ... Pretty good quote from Cooper about what he wants the team's identity to ultimately be: "At some point, I want to get to s spot when a team comes into our building or they know we're next on the schedule, guys are looking two or three games ahead, and when opposing teams walk into the room and opposing players say, 'Okay, boys, buckle the chin straps. We're going to be in for one tonight.' " ... Pierre-Cedric Labrie said his only disappointment with his first NHL goal was that it took so long to happen, 12 games. "I had so many opportunities, I couldn't bury one before," he said. "Now, it was just time for it to happen. I was just bringing the puck back to the net. I didn't expect it to go in -- hockey karma, you get what you deserve. Hopefully, it's just one of many coming." ... Left wing Ryan Malone will be keeping an eye on the Frozen Four as his alma mater, St. Cloud State, is in the mix. ... Captain Vinny Lecavalier said his Cut For A Cure event -- Carle, Teddy Purcell, B.J. Crombeen and Alex Killorn also shaved their heads -- raised $150,000 for pediatric cancer research.