With Tampa Bay Lightning Star Steven Stamkos Out, Victor Hedman Stepped Up

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Level left Recreation 2 of the sequence towards the Islanders early within the second interval, apparently injured, after which missed Video games 3 and 5. Hedman helped fill the void, chipping in 4 objectives and two assists and taking part in strong protection towards a disciplined workforce that pushed laborious earlier than being eradicated in six video games.

George Gwozdecky, a former Lightning assistant coach, mentioned he believed Rick Bowness, who stood behind the opposing bench within the Stanley Cup finals, may need had essentially the most instrumental function in Hedman’s improvement into one of many N.H.L.’s elite defensive skills: a Norris Trophy winner in 2018, a finalist for the previous 4 seasons and now the winner of a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup.

Earlier than he joined the Stars as an assistant coach at the start of the 2018-19 season after which stepped as much as turn out to be the workforce’s interim head coach final December, Bowness spent 5 seasons operating the protection for the Lightning, working carefully with Hedman.

“Previous to 2015, some questioned how good he may very well be, how a lot stronger he’d get, whether or not he was a flash within the pan, whether or not he can actually be a frontrunner,” Gwozdecky mentioned. “Rick helped Victor put the ending touches on his recreation and helped him get excessive and switch into the elite participant he’s now.”

He added: “With Stamkos out, he turned a frontrunner on and off the ice, indubitably. However on the ice, he’d been requested to provide a little bit extra and contribute a little bit extra, particularly within the sequence towards the Islanders, and the best way he responded has been fairly spectacular.”

Born simply 10 months aside in 1990 and drafted a yr aside in 2008 and 2009, Stamkos and Hedman grew collectively from youngsters into males. The supporting forged round them improved underneath the stewardship of Jeff Vinik, who bought the workforce in 2010, and the regular fingers of Coach Jon Cooper and Basic Supervisor Steve Yzerman after which his protégé, Julien BriseBois.



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