The Tampa Bay Lightning’s season is moving along at a snail’s pace thanks to Covid.
The Lightning has played four games in two weeks, two against Chicago and two against Columbus.
Two games against the Dallas Stars were postponed due to Covid. Those games will be played later in the season. The game scheduled for Tuesday the 26th in Raleigh has also been postponed due to a Covid out break on the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes are still on to play Thursday.
The Lightning has started the season 3-1, but it isn’t easy to get into any rhythm when you are playing an average of once every three days.
Lighting Captain Steve Stamkos is still trying to get back into hockey shape. That is challenging to do with the erratic schedule.
The Lightning lost to the Blue Jackets 5-2 over the weekend in Columbus. Jon Cooper called it “as bad a game as they’ve played since before the four-month pause last season.”
Lightning defensemen Mikhail Sergachev called it the worst game of his career.
The Lightning was also playing without Blake Coleman. Coleman was scratched from the game due to missing a team meeting.
The Lightning came out of the game with a couple of injuries. Defensemen Erik Cernak suffered an upper body injury when he was driven into the boards by Nick Foligno of the Blue Jackets.
Cernak is questionable for the game Thursday night against Carolina.
Mitchell Stephens suffered a more serious lower body injury and will be out indefinitely.
With Stephens out, Mathieu Joseph will center the fourth line between Alexander Volkov and Pat Maroon.
The Lightning has also moved Gemal Smith from the taxi squad to the active roster. Smith could see some time on the fourth line.
The Lightning has plenty of practice time on their hands now, but that will change later in the season when the schedule becomes more compressed, and the Lightning will be playing every other day.
Steven Stamkos talked with reporters about the long layoffs between games and the additional practice time. “Practices are going to be very beneficial for us because the schedule, especially now that we’ve missed some games, there aren’t going to be a lot of practice times this year. You’re going to get into situations where we’re playing every other day pretty much.”
The Lightning is scheduled to play Carolina on Thursday and then play Nashville at home in a two game series.