The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Thursday evening that the injury to center Steven Stamkos was serious enough to place him on Long-Term Injured Reserve. This sidelines the Bolts captain for the team’s next ten games at minimum, which spans the next 24 days.
UPDATE: Steven Stamkos (lower body), put on LTIR, will miss at least 10 games/24 days #tblightning
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) April 16, 2021
Steven Stamkos Placed on Long Term Injured Reserve with Lower Body Injury
Stamkos last appeared for the Lightning a week ago, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played the first two periods but left after a single shift in the third. Nothing visible seemed to occur to cause an injury, which has been classified as lower-body. Whether this is related to the core muscle surgery he underwent last summer has not been stated.
In 38 games, Stamkos scored 17 goals to go with 17 assists for 34 points. His relative Corsi percentage of 2.5% ranked as his best since 2016-17. Now, the Bolts will be without both Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who hasn’t suited up this season. However, both could be in the lineup for the postseason.
Over his 13-year NHL career, Stamkos has played exclusively for the Lightning. A prolific goal scorer, he potted 439 goals and 427 assists for 866 career points in 841 career games. Stamkos was the first overall pick, to Tampa, in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
What This Means for the Future
With a tight race developing for first in the Central Division, the Lightning wish Stamkos could play. They and the Carolina Hurricanes sit atop the division, but the Florida Panthers are just one point behind. Whichever team finishes first not only locks up home ice through the second round at a minimum but also avoids having to play both of the other two teams in the postseason. That’s because whoever winds up second and third will face one another in round one. Then, the winner of that series will play the winner of the first-vs.-fourth seed matchup.
So, locking that top spot guarantees that you wouldn’t see one of the other two top dogs until round two, and you force them to face one another in round one. Tampa would love that spot.
However, if it doesn’t wind up happening, they could still roll into the postseason strong. Their depth has been tested all year long, and the team’s record still stands a lofty 29-12-2. Add Kucherov and Stamkos to that group, and it might be all the momentum they need to go deep into the postseason once again. Let’s hope Stamkos isn’t out too long beyond that ten-game minimum.