NHL Rumors: Lightning Expect Forward To Be Ready For Game 1 Of ECF

The Tampa Bay Lightning are finally almost back to full health. Head coach Jon Cooper believes that Brandon Hagel will be good to go for the Eastern Conference Final opening game.

Hagel has played all 11 games for the Lightning in the playoffs thus far, but has been dealing with an injury since being hit with the puck in the foot in Game 2 of the second round series. Fortunately for him and the team, they have been off since May 23 after sweeping the first place Florida Panthers.

Hagel should be slotted back into his spot on the third line beside Ross Colton and Corey Perry until Brayden Point returns. At that point Nic Paul should rejoin them and create the infamous third line of the Lightning that they always seem to have, no matter which players it consists of.

Through the first 11 games of the playoffs as a member of the Lightning, Hagel has a goal and four points in his first postseason action of his NHL career. The team gave up a lot for him to be a part of the three-peat at a very cheap cost. As he gets more comfortable with the style of play the playoffs bring, he will only improve as he is set to be ready. The Lightning play either the Carolina Hurricanes or the New York Rangers who are each very strong.

Photo credit: © Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports