Dec 5, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT
If Steven Stamkos had to pick one aspect of his recovery from a broken right tibia that’s the toughest, it’s watching the Tampa Bay Lightning fall, knowing he can’t help them.
When he suffered the injury, the Lightning were leading the Atlantic Division, but now they rank fourth and have just a five-point cushion in the battle for a playoff spot.
Although the Lightning have enjoyed the occasional offensive outburst without their top sniper, they haven’t scored a goal in back-to-back games and have been shut out of three of their last five contests.
Of course, Stamkos isn’t the only Lightning player sidelined, but there aren’t many forwards as vital to a team’s success as he is. They aren’t like the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks, which still look deadly even without a key player.
The Lightning haven’t proven that they’re that kind of team and their recent play only reinforces that. For Tampa Bay, getting back into the playoffs would be a big step forward, but the team’s offense will have to come from different sources for quite a while.
Stamkos is still nowhere near returning and he doesn’t have a timetable, although there have been suggestions that he’s eyeing a Feb. 6 return.
“It’s all about to how fast the bone heals, that part is a bit tricky, but I have to have a goal and I work towards my goal,” he said, according to the Lightning’s website.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay its own set of tasks.
- Flyers’ Mason broke his right pinky finger playing ball hockey 0
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame 40
- It’s back! PHT’s Team of the Day summer series starts tomorrow 7
- Pens sign Spaling — two years, $4.4 million 13
- Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D 30
- Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension 18
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million 46
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ 59
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 15
- Report: Trottier to join Sabres’ coaching staff 21
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ (59)
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million (46)
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center (45)
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame (40)