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NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos’ Injury Could Not Have Come At Worse Time

Steven Stamkos

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos left Monday’s game against the Boston Bruins with an apparent leg injury. Stamkos was backchecking against Dougie Hamilton in the second period and slid into the Tampa Bay goal, making contact with the post. He was taken off the ice by a stretcher after failing to get up on his own.

It appeared he was in serious pain and was taken to the hospital for X-rays. There was some speculation that the blade of his skate impacted the injury. Stamkos came into the game with an eight-game scoring streak and has gone six straight games with a goal. The Lightning are hoping for the best, but are prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Stamkos is currently tied with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby for the league lead in scoring with 23 points. He is also tied with St. Louis Blues forward Alex Steen with 14 goals.

Without their top scorer, the Lightning will have to shuffle their lines and rely more on their secondary scoring to get them through. Alex Kilbourn has recently been moved to the top line with Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. With Vincent Lecavalier and Cory Conacher no longer at their disposal, this could prove to be a critical loss to the team.

This could not have come at a worse time. Tampa Bay has won eight of the last 10 games and four straight going into Monday’s game, and recently passed the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Playing in what could be the tightest division in hockey, the organization may have to look into the open market simply because of how much this team revolves around their All-Star center. He is the heart and soul of the power play and is their main weapon night in and night out.

Just when things seemed to be going the Lightning’s way, they will be forced to wait on the word about the extent of this injury. If it is long-term, Tampa Bay may need to look into a deal on a team that already has some injury-prone forwards.

Jeff Ekiert is the Pittsburgh Penguins/NHL beat writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @jmekiert and add him to your Google account.