Can the Lightning Survive Without Stamkos?

Posted: November 12, 2013 in NHL
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Monday afternoon had one game on the schedule in the NHL, as the Boston Bruins hosted division rival and leader Tampa Bay Lightning. Midway through the second period, Bruins’ Shawn Thornton was driving the net from the left circle, and Bruins’ young stud Dougie Hamilton was fighting with Lightning’s franchise player Steven Stamkos for position while charging at the net. The play ended when Hamilton and Stamkos collided with the net and zipping right by Lightning goalie Anders Lindback. Here’s the video of the play:

Stamkos was stretchered off the ice, clearly in a lot of pain, grabbing his right lower leg. It apparently made contact with the post perpendicular to the bar. For those readers who may not know, the net is held in position with pegs and holes in the ice, and they don’t give way easy. So with a post stuck in place with a hurtling player coming towards it, physics took it from there.

Needless to say for the Lightning, this is gonna suck.

Stamkos was later diagnosed with a broken right tibia, which was the news that no one wanted to hear. Stamkos will have surgery today to repair it, and the timetable for his return is completely up in the air.

Here’s what Lightning VP and GM Steve Yzerman had to say:

“At this point Steven will be out indefinitely,” vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman said. “The medical staff in Boston, in consultation with our team physicians, has made the decision to surgically repair the injury. The procedure is expected to take place tomorrow morning. The biggest concern for me, and the rest of the Lightning, is that decisions are made in Steven’s best long-term interest, and we feel this is the appropriate course of action.”

Typical timetables for return from this injury could range from 4-6 months to a whole year, according to team orthopedist Koco Eaton.

Let’s take a look at what the Lightning are losing for the next long time: In the 17 games he’s played this season, he has 14 goals (tied for league lead with Blues’ Alex Steen) and 23 points (tied for league lead with Penguins’ Sidney Crosby). That means out of the Bolts’ 54 goals scored, he’s been a part of nearly half of them. He’s also reliable, set to miss his first game since the 2007-8 season. Also, Stamkos now plays an integral part of Tampa’s power play. Stamkos’ plus/minus of 11 suggests that he also plays well defensively, and has the intangibles of one of the best players in the league.

Basically, the Lightning will have to carry on without their best player.

What does this mean for the Atlantic Division race? Well, if you ask my opinion, Tampa’s gonna fall unless goalie tandem Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop keep playing at a high level. But losing the top offensive guy will put more pressure on the keepers, and it may hurt those 2 netminders. Look for Tampa to start dropping in the standings soon, because I don’t think the Lightning sans Stamkos are best in the East.

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