For months the Lightning eagerly awaited the return of Steven Stamkos. As it turned out, he came back at a dire time for Tampa Bay.
The team honored former captain Martin St. Louis’ request to be traded and have won just three of its last 11 games. The Lightning’s once comfortable hold on a playoff spot has been reduced to four points.
Stamkos couldn’t save them when they played the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres in his first game back on Thursday. Now Tampa Bay has to face the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins tonight.
“It doesn’t get much tougher than Boston coming in,” Stamkos said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “They’ve had our number lately. They’re extremely physical defensive team that can pounce on any mistakes that you make. This is a true character test for our team right now.”
As Stamkos touched on, the Bruins have a 3-0 series record against Tampa Bay in 2013-14. The Lightning’s struggles against Boston extend far beyond that though as they haven’t beaten them since March 13, 2012.
Maybe that means they’re due. Either way, they have to stop the bleeding before they’re reduced to playing catch up with mere weeks remaining.