Coach’s Corner: Losing Tyler Johnson would be ‘tough’ for Lightning

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean discuss Tyler Johnson crashing into the boards in Montreal, OHL hockey, and his favourite line in hockey.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are already without a few key players and the team suffered another injury scare when forward Tyler Johnson left Saturday’s game after he was pushed into the boards by Montreal Canadiens defenceman Greg Pateryn.

The Lightning said that Johnson will not return after suffering an upper-body injury, but it’s unclear whether it’s a serious injury or if he left as a precautionary measure. The team is expected to provide a more definitive update after the game.

“If they lose him, with all the rest of the guys (hurt), it’s going to be tough,” Cherry said Saturday on Coach’s Corner with Ron MacLean.

Cherry thought Johnson put himself in a bad situation and said the Lightning forward needed to do a better job of protecting his body before he was hit into the end boards by the Canadiens blueliner.

“Watch Johnson and he lets up and all (Pateryn) did was push him,” Cherry said. “When you’re near the boards, always be aware. That’s where everyone gets hurt is next to those boards.”

The Lightning are currently without forward Steven Stamkos, who is expected to miss at least a month with a blood clot in his arm, while defenceman Anton Stralman is out indefinitely with a broken leg, defenceman Victor Hedman is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, forward Ryan Callahan is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and forward Nikita Kucherov also sat out Saturday’s contest.

Johnson has scored 14 goals with 24 assists in 68 games this season. He led the Lightning in scoring during last year’s post-season when the club won the Eastern Conference before falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup final.

The Lightning will face off against the Detroit Red Wings when the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs kick off next week.