March 3: Stamkos underwent successful surgery on Monday. His timeline has not changed.
February 29: The Tampa Bay Lightning suffered a significant loss when the team announced that captain Steven Stamkos will miss the next six to eight weeks to have surgery to repair a core muscle injury, which he is expected to have Monday, March 2. To make matters worse for the Lightning, even if the estimated injury time is on the short end (six weeks), Stamkos is still likely to miss some playoff time as the playoffs start in five weeks from today.
That’s a serious issue for a team that were swept out of the first-round of the playoffs last season by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning have been up and down all season, on top of that, and while it looked like the team was heading in a positive direction recently, clearly establishing themselves as the Atlantic Divsion’s second-best team and looking to challenge the Boston Bruins for first place, the Lightning have now lost four straight.
The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) wrote Friday that there was some concern regarding Stamkos, who was held out of Thursday’s game due to a lower-body injury. He has missed three games earlier in the month and has skipped several practices and skates to heal his injury. Jon Cooper has already said that the team will have to go “game-to-game” with Stamkos until this announcement.
Stamkos’ loss is critical, not just because the 30-year-old’s a top-line player who currently has 29 goals this season, but because of his leadership in the locker room. On top of that, this has been an issue for the veteran for quite a while and yet, Stamkos has still been quite effective. Unfortunately, the team has to hope it can continue on its course and finish strong during the regular season as well as hope that it can win some playoff games without him until Stamkos is ready to return.