Tampa Bay Lightning superstar forward Steven Stamkos is still not ready to return the lineup, and will not be available in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders.
That news was announced by coach Jon Cooper on Sunday, putting to bed any hope that Stamkos could be ready to play anytime soon.
“He’s not available. He didn’t skate today,” said Cooper, via NHL.com. “He’s not going to play in the series.”
“If something’s going to happen and he’s getting close, I will be the first one to tell you. But from here on out, you shouldn’t ask the questions because the answer’s not going to change. If something comes, I will update you. I will be the first to let you know.”
This has been another tough-luck year for Stamkos on the injury front as he has not appeared in a game since February.
He initially missed time during the regular season after undergoing surgery in early March for a core muscle injury.
This latest injury is something that occurred during his recovery from the core muscle injury.
Stamkos recorded 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 59 games during the regular season. A significant portion of Stamkos’ prime years have been derailed by injuries and health issues, and this is the just latest in the run of bad luck.
He missed most of the 2013-14 and 2016-17 seasons due to significant leg injuries, while he was also sidelined for almost all of the Lighting’s run to the Eastern Conference Final during the 2015-16 postseason due to a blood clot issue. He appeared in just one game that entire postseason (their Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Final).
There was also a half-season lockout thrown in with all of that during the 2012-13 season.
Cooper did have some positive injury news for the Lightning on Sunday, when he announced that Nikita Kucherov, their other superstar forward, will be available for Game 1 against the Islanders on Monday night. He had been banged up in Tampa Bay’s Second Round win against the Boston Bruins. He has been one of the top offensive players in the league for the past five years and is one of the leading scorers this postseason.
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders
Game 1: Monday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Friday, Sept. 11, 8 p.m. ET – USA
Game 4: Sunday, Sept. 13, 3 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 5: Tuesday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 7: Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC
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• Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule