Tampa Bay Lightning Bolts Bits: Stamkos improving, Crunch compete for Calder


Tampa Bay Lightning  captain Steven Stamkos commented that he was “feeling much better,” while a contingent of once-and-future Bolts head to the conference finals of the AHL playoffs, in search of the Calder Cup.

Good news for fans for the Tampa Bay Lightning: the Steven Stamkos reconstruction is progressing! At least, according to the Tampa Bay Times and the man himself.

"“Things are going well,” Stamkos wrote to the Tampa Bay Times. “Feeling much better than where I was at the end of the season.”"

While hopes were initially high that the injury-prone 27-year-old forward would be able to return by the end of the regular season to hope the Lightning in a playoff push, it simply was not to be.

Captain Stamkos is, of course, joined in the injury ward by Tampa Bay’s permanent alternate captain, Ryan Callahan, who is still rehabbing a nagging hip injury. Cally promises to be back 100 percent come next season, which is good news for a team in need of toughness and leadership.

In other good news, a contingent of baby Bolts are on a quest to capture the Calder Cup and have advanced to the AHL Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Toronto Marlies. According to the Tampa Bay Lightning official website, their minor league affiliate will face the Providence Bruins after notching five consecutive goals in a 6-3 win in Game 7 of the series.

"Gabriel Dumont opened scoring for the Crunch before the Marlies surged to a two-goal lead by the midway point of the second period. Matt Taormina and Adam Erne evened the score in the middle frame followed by goals from Matthew Peca, Cory Conacher and Yanni Gourde in the final stanza to secure victory."

Goalie prospect Mike McKenna, undefeated on home ice these playoffs, made 14 saves in the effort and helped send the Crunch to the AHL Eastern Conference Finals. The series is set to kick off Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.

Next: Bolts to host All-Star Game? A lot has happened in the 19 years since the last time the ASG rolled into Tampa.