For the fourth time in seven seasons the lightning will be without their captain for a part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as Steven Stamkos surgery to repair a core muscle injury earlier this week and will miss 6-8 weeks.
This recovery time for Stamkos will cause him to miss the rest of the season as well the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and maybe part of the second round.
Stamkos finishes the season with 29 goals and 37 assists for 66 points and was on pace for another 40 goal season. Stamkos did hit a career milestone this year as he notched his 400th career goal against the Winnipeg Jets.
After playing the first four seasons of his career without an injury, Stamkos has been hit hard by the injury bug and again will miss substantial time.
How will this impact the Lightning’s chances down the stretch as they jockey for the best position in the playoff race?
You always hate to lose a talent like Stamkos, not so much for what he does on the ice, but more for the leadership aspect of his game that will be missed in the locker room.
Stamkos played on the top line and also on the first power play unit.
Coach Jon Cooper doesn’t want the Stamkos injury to affect the team from a mental standpoint. “Some minutes are going to have to be distributed a little bit to other guys, but as a team, if one guy comes out, it shouldn’t affect the way we play. It shouldn’t affect our mindset. It shouldn’t affect the amount of penalties we take. It shouldn’t affect the turnovers. We’ve got to keep playing the same way. That’s the sign of a good team is that you can just continue on when you hit adversity like this. And so, that’s what I’m looking for is for us not to change our mindset in how we have to play and how we have to win. We still have to defend. We still have to be good on special teams. We still have to do all these things. That’s going to be the sign for me.”
The Lightning have plenty of players that should be able to pick up the scoring slack. Nikita Kucherov, Braydon Point, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, and Yanni Gaurde are capable of going on a hot streak and carrying this lightning team to a few wins.
With the Boston Bruins in town tonight, The Lightning will be looking to close the gap in the standings on the first place Bruins and their game without the captain Steven Stamkos.
The Bruins currently have a seven point lead on the second place Lightning, and are currently leading the overall race in the NHL for the presidents trophy.
The Lightning have four division games coming up this week counting the game against the Bruins tonight.
The Lightning will host Montreal Thursday and then make a visit to Boston on Saturday and then visit Detroit on Sunday.