The Tampa Bay Lightning are fighting for their playoff lives, in a battle with the Boston Bruins, and New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They have done so, despite a myriad of injuries. They have been especially hard hit at the centre position, and according to a report on NHL.com it looks like they could be getting Tyler Johnson back this weekend.
Johnson was one of three Lightning centres injured in a March 9th game against the Minnesota Wild. While Vladislav Namestnikov has returned to the lineup, and Cedric Paquette is close, the news is not as good for Johnson. He has recently returned to full practice and NHL.com is reporting that he could be back this weekend.
Update: Tyler Johnson Skating, Nearing Return
“The injury has been tough for (Johnson), tough on all of us,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “I hope he keeps progressing, but it’s been slow so far.”
Johnson is having a bit of a down year, by his standards, but has been a key member of the Lightning for several years. In 64 games this season, he has 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points. Prior to the injury, he looked poised to have his his third straight 20 goal season in the NHL. He hit 24 goals in 2013-2014 which was his rookie year and then 29 goals in 2014-2015.
Johnson has also been particularly strong in the playoffs over the last two years. He was the leading scorer for the Lightning when they got all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014-2015. He had 13 goals and 23 points for that run and last year, he had seven goals and 17 points as the Lightning lost in the Eastern Conference Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins.