The Tampa Bay Lightning will be forced to finish out the 2019-20 season without the help of captain Steven Stamkos, who is set to miss 6-8 weeks.
The Tampa Bay Lightning simply cannot seem to catch a break when it comes to injuries this season. Slowly, but surely, the Lightning has continued to lose players to all manner of injury. Unfortunately, these things happen in a physical sport like hockey, but the latest injury to the team may very well hurt the most.
On February 29, the Lightning announced captain Steven Stamkos would be forced to miss 6-8 weeks after being forced to undergo surgery to repair a core muscle injury. In other words, there is about zero chance Stamkos will take the ice with the team for the remainder of the regular season. In fact, depending on how his recovery goes, he could potentially miss the first week of the postseason.
While no team ever wants to be without one of their most dangerous offensive players, the wound hurts just a little bit more when you lose your captain. Ideally, the captain is not only a leader on the ice but the person who drives the locker room to be the best version of themselves. What do you do when that driving force is suddenly stripped away?
Well, hopefully for the Lightning, you carry on with business as usual. Yes, losing Steven Stamkos is a huge blow for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos is currently in second place on the team in points with 29 goals and 37 assists for a total of 80 points. The only person with numbers greater than his is Nikita Kucherov.
At the same time, if a team consists of just one player, it wouldn’t very well be a team, would it?
The Lightning is stacked with talented players. The aforementioned Nikita Kucherov is in the Top 10 in the National Hockey League in both points and assists with 31 goals and 49 assists for a total of 80 points thus far. And let’s discuss Alex Killorn for a second. Killer is having a record-setting season for himself, setting a new season-high with 24 goals and 23 assists for a total of 47 points.
If Alex Killorn picks up one more point, be it a goal or assist, he will set another career-high for himself; this time in the points category. Raise your hand if when the Lightning started off this season you thought Alex Killorn would be in first place on the team in goals and points at any point this season. Yeah, I thought not.
Yet, here we are. He is having a banner season and really helping his team when the times haven’t been as great as anyone here in the Bolts Nation would’ve hoped.
While we’re on the topic of players stepping up, let’s have a quick discussion about Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. In addition to being at the very heart and soul of the Lightning’s defense, the 29-year-old Swedish defenseman is currently in fourth place on the team in points with nine goals and 44 assists for a total of 53 points. These numbers put Hedman in third place among defensemen in the NHL, only being currently bested by John Carlson of the Washington Capitals and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators.
There is no doubt the Tampa Bay Lightning has taken a hit by losing their captain for the remainder of the regular season. At the same time, the Lightning has faced just about all manner of adversity in the past and has generally found a way to come out on the other side. Why should this season be any different?
The Lightning has a tough challenge ahead of them tonight. The Bolts are about to engage in one of the most important games remaining on their schedule. The Lightning will take the ice tonight to do battle with captain Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are currently seven points ahead of the Lightning in the Atlantic Division with the Lightning having a lone game in hand.
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A victory tonight would seriously help the Lightning close the gap between them and the Bruins and help the Bolts solidify their spot in the postseason. While a victory in any way would be beneficial to the Bolts, let’s hope the boys in blue finish this one off in regulation. No need to give out any free points, especially to Division opponents.