It’s certainly been a tough season for the Tampa Bay Lightning. One which saw lots of adversity thrown their way, including numerous injuries to key players. Those players are healthy now, but Steven Stamkos is struggling to score goals more than ever before, raising the question about whether he’s playing injured.
That can’t be ruled out given Stamkos’ scorching hot start. In January, February and March he put up 25 goals, while April has only seen two. Of course, his recent lack of firing pucks on net hasn’t helped.
Another thing I’ve noticed lately is that Stamkos doesn’t crash the net as much. However, I know some of his best chances to score come from going into those dirty areas.
There’s also the small fact that TBO.com Lightning beat writer Erik Erlendsson told me via Twitter earlier today that Stamkos has an injured shoulder. Don’t expect him to admit that though considering practically every guy in the league’s playing at least a little banged up.
Actually, this piece of news provides a legitimate answer to Stamkos’ recent troubles finding the back of the net. It might even explain why he doesn’t crash the net like usual. Maybe he’s a bit tentative, fearing any hit or blocked shot to name a few could put him out of action for months.
For Stamkos, playing through pain is nothing new. Remember how he was hit in the face by a puck during Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals? That resulted in a broken nose, yet he only left to put on a full cage.
With only five games remaining, one should expect Stamkos to remain in the Lightning’s lineup. His production may not be what NHL fans have come to expect, but he’s still a threat every time he steps onto the ice.