It takes a special level of concentration for hockey fans to focus on the defensemen, but they will be talking about Lightning blueliner Victor Hedman. And they'll do so because he can do very exciting things that capture their attention.
Just five minutes into Monday's game, Hedman showed that skill when he lasered a pinpoint pass to a circling Ryan Callahan 120 feet away, which the former Rangers captain took and fired past the shoulder of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead.
By the end of this series, much like Duncan Keith with Chicago, Hedman will be the defenseman that everyone knows.
Hedman finished the 3-2 victory plus-one after also making a beautiful play on the game-winning goal by Cedric Paquette late in the game, and that has brought his plus-minus total to 13, which ranks just one behind Keith for the NHL lead this spring.
"He's just blossomed the last couple years. I think [his] skating set him apart, his size (he's 6-foot-6, 230 pounds), but he's really learned how to defend," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.
Hedman set a pair of Lightning records (most postseason assists and postseason points by a defenseman) in Monday's win, and he'll be a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Lightning can manage to win a couple more games.
"Just the plays he makes . . . he's a fun player to watch. It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman's arrived," Cooper added.
Game 4 is tonight in Chicago. Tampa Bay leads the series, 2-1.