Given how well the team fared without him last season, Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos is more than equipped to discuss his club’s resiliency in the face of adversity.
“This team has gone through injuries before,” Stamkos said, per NHL.com. “We know how to respond. For the guys who were here last [season], it was tough.
“I think for the most part we’ve done a good job.”
Stamkos, of course, is talking about the early part of this season — which not been kind to the Lightning’s health. Victor Hedman, who was off to a tremendous start, broke his finger and will be out 4-6 weeks. Ryan Callahan suffered a lower-body injury and is week-to-week, while Alex Killorn will miss tonight’s game against the Jets with an upper-body ailment.
But like Stamkos said, it’s nothing new. The club withstood his 45-game absence (broken leg) last season to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, then played the entire opening round without the services of Vezina nominee Ben Bishop. While the Bolts didn’t do very well without their No. 1 netminder — getting swept by the Habs — it proved to be a learning experience about the “next man up” philosophy teams need to take in the wake of injuries.
Speaking of the next men up, the Lightning recalled Cedric Paquette from AHL Syracuse on Friday, and he’ll draw in tonight against the Jets. Paquette appeared in all four playoff games for Tampa Bay last season and fared well, averaging over 10 minutes per while registering a pair of assists.