Morning After Thoughts: Lightning miss Erik Cernak

photo 1476782916354 326ab24c93df.jpeg

As the Tampa Bay Lightning geared up for game five of the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens, I couldn’t help but think about the impact of missing defenseman Erik Cernak on the team. Cernak’s presence was sorely missed as the Lightning struggled defensively, ultimately falling 3-2 to the Canadiens. This Morning After Thoughts article explores the importance of Cernak and what it means for the Lightning moving forward in the series.

Morning After Thoughts: Lightning miss Erik Cernak

The Tampa Bay Lightning suffered a tough 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, but it wasn’t just the score that left a bad taste in their mouths. The absence of defenseman Erik Cernak was also felt throughout the game.

Cernak, who has been a key part of the Lightning’s defensive unit for the past few seasons, was a late scratch due to an undisclosed injury. The Lightning were forced to adjust their lineup on the fly, and it showed.

Impact on the team

Without Cernak, the Lightning were missing a physical presence on the back end. The 6’4″, 233-pound defenseman is known for his punishing hits and aggressive play, which can wear down opposing forwards and create turnovers.

The Panthers were able to take advantage of Cernak’s absence, as they were able to generate more scoring chances and control the puck for longer stretches of time. The Lightning’s defense looked out of sorts at times, and they struggled to contain Florida’s top forwards.

The ripple effect

Cernak’s absence also had a ripple effect on the Lightning’s forwards. Without his physical presence on the ice, the Panthers were able to take more liberties with their hits and checks, which can disrupt the flow of the Lightning’s offense.

This was evident in the second period, when Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman delivered a big hit on Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow. The hit seemed to rattle the Lightning’s bench, and they were unable to generate much offense for the remainder of the period.

Possible replacements

The Lightning will need to find a way to replace Cernak in their lineup, at least in the short term. One possibility is Cal Foote, who has been a healthy scratch for the past few games.

Foote is a big, physical defenseman who can play a similar game to Cernak. He has shown flashes of potential in his limited NHL action, and he could be ready for a larger role if Cernak’s injury keeps him out for an extended period.

Another option is to move Jan Rutta up in the lineup. Rutta has been a solid depth defenseman for the Lightning, but he has also shown that he can handle a bigger role when called upon. He played over 20 minutes in a game earlier this season, and he could be asked to do more if Cernak is out for an extended period.

Long-term impact

If Cernak’s injury is serious, it could have a significant impact on the Lightning’s postseason aspirations. Cernak is a crucial part of their defensive unit, and he plays a key role in shutting down the opposition’s top forwards.

If he is forced to miss a significant amount of time, the Lightning will need to find a way to replace his production. They have plenty of depth on defense, but Cernak’s physicality and defensive acumen are not easily replaced.

Looking ahead

The Lightning will need to regroup quickly, as they have another important game against the Panthers on Saturday. If Cernak is unable to play, they will need to adjust their lineup and gameplan accordingly.

The good news for the Lightning is that they have plenty of experience dealing with injuries. They were without star forward Nikita Kucherov for the entire regular season, and they were able to overcome his absence and win the Stanley Cup.

If they can find a way to overcome Cernak’s injury, it will only strengthen their resolve and make them an even tougher team to beat in the postseason.

Final thoughts

The Lightning are a talented and deep team, but injuries can derail even the best-laid plans. Losing Erik Cernak for any amount of time would be a tough blow, but the Lightning have the depth and experience to overcome it.

They will need to stay focused and continue to play their game, regardless of who is in the lineup. If they can do that, they will be a tough team to beat come playoff time.

Avi Adkins

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

Recent Posts