With star center Steven Stamkos in a Massachusetts hospital following surgery on a broken tibia suffered during Monday’s game against the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning had two choices. They could either feel sorry for themselves, or they could fight harder than ever before to win one for their ailing alternate captain.
As easy as it would be to choose the former, especially considering what Stamkos means to this team, the Lightning correctly chose the latter, showing enormous heart in a 2-1 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night.
It didn’t come easy, as the Lightning had a potential insurance goal by Radko Gudas disallowed because the referees felt Tyler Johnson interfered with Carey Price, then saw the Canadiens tie things up late. But like every hockey team, this Bolts team is a band of brothers, willing to battle for one another every single night. And what better night than Tuesday, when everyone could use a pick-me-up after witnessing a horrific injury to, hands down, their best player?
For a Jon Cooper-coached team, this is something fans have come to expect. Heart, heart, and more heart. No matter what happens with Stamkos’ recovery, fans know the guys on the ice have what it takes to overcome such devastation and still win hockey games.
That being said, the long-term effects of losing someone of Stamkos’ caliber are huge. You’re talking about the No. 1 center, a former 60-goal scorer and one of the NHL‘s best players, missing months (yes, MONTHS!) of action. That’s not easily replaced on any team.
However, the Lightning do have the organizational depth to compensate for such a significant loss. It involves everyone stepping up and doing whatever possible to keep this team competitive for more than just one game.
Can they keep winning games going forward? While it may look bleak on the surface, Tampa Bay has the heart and determination to overcome significant odds against and, as the hashtag Lightning fans have trending on Twitter and Facebook says, “Win It For Stammer”.