The back injury suffered by Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy may expand the opportunity for the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and other Atlantic Division rivals to make the playoffs this season.
Vasilevskiy will miss the first two months of the season after having successful microdiscectomy Thursday to repair a lumbar disc herniation. Vasilevskiy notified the team about the issue this summer, but thought he was fine after an injection relieved the pain. But he started experiencing issues again in Tampa Bay’s opening practice.
The first two months of the NHL season includes 29 games for the Lightning. That’s 35.3% of Tampa Bay’s schedule. Either Jonas Johansson or Matt Tomkins is now in line to compete for the No. 1 job, unless the Lightning trade for a netminder. Johansson has 35 career NHL games and Tomkins has never played in the NHL.
Other top Atlantic teams also are dealing with issues. The Florida Panthers will start the season without injured Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour. The Boston Bruins lost Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement.
The Red Wings are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, while the Sabres have gone 12 seasons without qualifying for the playoffs.
Red Wings Next Game
The Red Wings will play the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena Saturday at 7 p.m. They lost to the Capitals 4-3 Thursday on the road. Robby Fabbri netted a pair of goals for the Red Wings.
Red Wings In Case You Missed It
- Axel Sandin Pellikka has three goals in his first three games with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League.
- Alex Lyon is battling James Reimer to be the Red Wings’ No. 2 goalie. Lyon stopped 11 of 13 shots in the Red Wings’ 4-3 loss to Washington
- Can Red Wings center Joe Veleno scored 15-plus goals to go with his 150 hits this season?
Hockey Now Network
Boston: Bruins coach Jim Montgomery likes the idea of NFL-like joint practices in the NHL. Boston Bruins
Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard delivered two assists in Chicago Blackhawks preseason debut.
Carolina: Ryan Suzuki may be trying to claim a roster spot on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Philadelphia: Sam Ersson may have the edge to be the Philadelphia Flyers No. 2 goalie.
San Jose: Filip Zadina was injured in the San Jose Sharks loss to Anaheim Ducks. No details on the extent of the injury.