Stamkos gets the ‘green light’ to return to Bolts lineup


We’ll let the man make the big announcement for himself:

Steven Stamkos last played on Nov. 11, when he broke his right tibia in a game in Boston. He’d hoped to be back in time to play for Canada at the Olympics; alas, it wasn’t to be.

The Lightning have carried on well without their elite sniper, going 22-18-5 since starting the season 12-5-0 with Stamkos (14 goals, 9 assists) in the lineup. At this point, it would take a tremendous collapse for the team to miss the playoffs.

Tampa Bay plays its next six games at home, including tomorrow’s contest versus Buffalo. If there’s a challenge for Jon Cooper’s troops, it could be making sure nobody lets their foot off the gas now that their best player is back.

The Lightning have a real chance to make some noise in the playoffs. As it stands right now, they’re likely to play either Montreal, Toronto, or Detroit in the first round.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?