Steven Stamkos has certainly been on quite the rollercoaster ride lately. There have been both ups and downs along the way, but Stamkos has always been optimistic. Unfortunately for fans, Stamkos is not quite ready to return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup; at least not yet.
According to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s official site, Stamkos underwent his evaluation on Monday morning, which included an x-ray of his broken tibia. Unfortunately, the Lightning’s team physician Dr. Ira Gutentag was not able to medically clear him for play.
While this may seem like yet another setback, and by some rights it is, it is really not as bad as it seems. According to the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson, Steven Stamkos is looking to make his return on home ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on March 6th as the Tampa Bay Lightning take on goaltender Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres.
Steven Stamkos not yet cleared to play, will not play on upcoming 4-game road trip, expects to return March 6 vs Buffalo #tblightning
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) February 24, 2014
Honestly, I can’t think of a more perfect time for Stamkos to make his return. The game against the Sabres on the 6th starts a six game home stand for the Bolts. This would incredibly lower the stress on Stamkos by cutting out any unnecessary traveling. Also, the games that follow, the Lightning will be up against some of the tougher opponents the Lightning will/have faced this season.
On the 8th, the Lightning take on the Boston Bruins, who have had the Lightning’s number all season long. Just about a week after that, the Bolts take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Right now, both the Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens are right on the tail of the Lightning, so that game is definitely a must win; one that could use a little extra firepower.
Before being sidelined by injury, Stamkos was on track to lead the NHL’s scoring race by a mile. In the 17 games that he had already played he scored 14 goals and 9 assists for a total of 23 points along with a plus-11 rating.
We all know that Stamkos is nothing short of superhuman when it comes to his recovery. Just 14 days after breaking his tibia at the TD Garden in Boston, he was up on his feet and walking without so much as the aid of crutches or a cane. Once he returned to practice, the color of his jersey changed almost as quickly as the team’s name would suggest; like Lightning.
The journey has been a long and arduous one, but through it all, Stamkos has kept his head up high and continued to do everything within his power to get back out on the ice and play the game that we all know and love, the greatest game in the world, hockey.
Do you think Stammer is going to be ready to hit the ice when March 6th rolls around? What kind of impact do you think his return will have on the Lightning’s playoff hopes? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.