Playoff beards. Avoiding conference championship trophies. Lying about injuries. Another of the oldest playoff traditions is when teams and players start disclosing injuries suffered throughout the playoffs. The latest to announce a playoff injury is Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos. Apparently, he’d been dealing with a left shoulder problem for the conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals and the conference finals against the Boston Bruins.
From the Tampa Tribune:
Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos never did catch fire the way he or his team hoped he would during the playoffs. Now we know one of the reasons why. Though he denied it was a hindrance to him, Stamkos admitted Monday that he spent the playoffs playing through a nagging left shoulder injury.
“I was a little banged up in the Pittsburgh series, but you know, it wasn’t anything that I think really affected my play,” Stamkos said. “When the game started, you’re running on adrenalin and stuff and I felt pretty good for the most part. I feel like I got better and better as the playoffs went on.”
Despite suffering an injury in the first round, Stamkos still managed 6 goals and 7 assists in 18 games. Even though he had 45 goals this season and 91 points, there were those who thought he was a bit of a disappointment during the playoffs. Despite people openly questioning Stamkos’ play, he still was able to score two goals in the 4-game sweep against the Capitals and another two goals against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Four goals aren’t bad on their own—but it’s a little more impressive after finding out he was playing through a shoulder injury.
Then again, no one would have questioned his toughness after this:
The next step for Stamkos and the Lightning is to agree on a contract for next season. Obviously, the restricted free agent will command a serious payday after scoring 96 goals over the past two seasons. Tampa GM Steve Yzerman has made no secret that he plans on getting a deal done with Stamkos’ agent Don Meehan, but it’s anyone’s guess when that will come to fruition. In the meantime, Stamkos has proven that he’ll be able to play through (multiple) injuries when the games matter most. ‘
Not a bad start to the guy’s career, eh?
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.
During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.
“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.
“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”
The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.
Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.