Stamkos’ injury was a ‘huge shock’ for the Bolts, but they won ‘t feel sorry for themselves

Associated Press

You have to give the Tampa Bay Lightning credit. They’ve dealt with a number injuries to key players this year and they’re just one point away from clinching a playoff spot.

Losing players like Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson for long stretches early on in the season is one thing, but being without Steven Stamkos going into the playoffs is something else.

On Saturday, the Bolts announced that Stamkos would be out anywhere between 1-3 months because of a blood clot. The news caught everyone off guard, including Stamkos’ teammates.

Brian Boyle described it as a “huge shock,” while Nikita Kucherov said it was “terrible”.

As if losing one of their best snipers wasn’t enough, the Lightning will also be without Anton Stralman heading into Game 1 of the playoffs next week.  The 29-year-old is out indefinitely after suffering a left fibula injury on Mar. 25.

“If you want to glass half-full it, I guess you can sit here and say, ‘Let’s win one for the Gipper,’ we’ve all got to bind together, it’s going to push us to new heights,” head coach Jon Cooper said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “But in reality they’re two of our best players, you can’t replace their talent. It’s no doubt a blow, but one thing we can’t do is sit here and say, ‘Our two big guns are out and now our season is over.’ We’ve come too far to have anything like try and get in our mind-set.”

Tampa was dealt another blow when Jonathan Drouin-a potential call up from the minors- suffered a lower-body injury late last week.

As of right now, here’s how the Lightning’s lines look:

Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov

Valtteri FilppulaCedric PaquetteRyan Callahan

Alex KillornVladislav NamestnikovJ.T. Brown

Mike Blunden-Brian Boyle-Erik Conda

Extra: Jonathan Marchessault

The Lightning’s attack looks a little underwhelming. They have a more than capable top line with the Triplets, but they’ll need offense from Namestnikov, Killorn, Filppula and Callahan if they hope to make a long run. Also, Ben Bishop will probably have to steal a few games.

“I kind of like our balance all the way through,” Cooper said of his lines. “You can’t sit here and say we’re top-heavy in one part, we’re a four-line team.”

If the playoffs started today, the Lightning would take on the Red Wings in the opening round.