Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman left his team’s Friday game against the New York Islanders with a non-displaced fracture of left fibula after his leg bent awkwardly in front of his net. He is out indefinitely.
Midway through the first period Stralman and Islanders forward Anders Lee were battling for position. Stralman got tangled up with Lee and fell backwards over Lee.
Losing Stralman for a prolonged period – especially with less than a month until the Stanley Cup Playoffs – is a big blow for the Lightning, a team with championship aspirations.
"He's an extremely important part of our team and has been since the day he got here," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Nobody is going to replace him. He's a top defenseman in this league."
Cooper also noted Stralman's season may not be over if the Lightning go deep into the playoffs.
After years as a journeyman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets, the 29-year-old Stralman has played his way into a leading role with the Lightning as a top pairing defenseman with Victor Hedman. Stralman ranks second on the team in time on ice per-game at 22:20. He also ranks second amongst Lightning blueliners with 34 points.
Stralman is a possession-driving player with a plus-4.7 CF% Rel according to War on Ice, which makes his loss even tougher for Tampa.
"Good teams find a way to dig deep like we did (Friday), but we certainly have to dig a little deeper now," captain Steven Stamkos said according to the Tampa Bay Times. "Guys are going to need to step up, and (they) have no choice."
Lee showed some remorse after the game per Newsday.
“That’s the last thing I want to see,” Lee said. “We were battling in front and the next thing I know, he’s down. You hate to see that. I feel bad, but it was just a battle.”
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