The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to an impressive 4-2 start, and there’s no doubt most of that success can be attributed to the outstanding play of Martin St. Louis.
So when news came out Wednesday morning that the team’s newly appointed captain is day-to-day with a lower body injury suffered after blocking a Drew Doughty slapshot during Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, a game in which he recorded two goals and one assist to surpass 900 points in a Bolts uniform, there was plenty of concern.
Luckily, it doesn’t seem too serious, though he’s still expected to miss at least a game or two. Which brings me to the question burning in every Lightning fans mind: How will St. Louis’ injury and absence affect the team?
For starters, he leads the Lightning with 10 points and six assists in half a dozen games this season. Not only that, his double digit point total places him second in NHL scoring, two behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. St. Louis also has four goals and a plus-6 rating, both of which tie him for the team lead alongside Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell and newcomer Valtteri Filppula.
Because of that, there’s no doubt he’ll be missed. Maybe not the way last year’s team would, considering the Lightning are playing better defensively while still scoring goals at an incredibly high rate. Add in the fact goaltender Ben Bishop‘s been solid in his four starts, and the team looks like a threat every time they step on the ice.
Another factor to consider is St. Louis leadership. There’s a reason he was named captain earlier this month, so saying the Lightning won’t miss having him on the ice in crucial situations would be foolish. However, Stamkos has been vocal himself, and the work he’s put in to improve his all-around game is evidenced by looking at the stats (4 goals, 9 points, plus-6 rating).
While there may be a small adjustment period, the Lightning should be able to survive St. Louis’ absence. He’s a vital part of this team, but continued good play from the other top forwards, led by Stamkos, will keep Tampa Bay competitive until their captain returns.