With the Tampa Bay Lightning preparing to face the rival Boston Bruins in the second round in a collision of arguably the two best teams in the NHL, the Bolts were hoping to be at full strength with face of the franchise Steven Stamkos back in the lineup. However, that won’t be the case. Head coach Jon Cooper told the media, including The Athletic’s Lightning writer Joe Smith, that Stamkos is still not available due to injury. Rather than reiterating the indefinite timeline of Stamkos’ rehab, Cooper merely stated “It’s pointless to keep asking about it.” Stamkos is still battling a core injury suffered back in March and has far exceeded the initial six-to-eight week timeline with the player and team still seemingly having no idea of when he might be ready to return. If Stamkos cannot return to face Tampa’s potentially toughest test in Boston, the odds are that he may not play in the postseason at all.
- Fan favorite Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher had his season come to an end prematurely as he suffered a broken jaw on a cross check from Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen in Game Five of the teams’ first round series. Gallagher only ended up missing one game, as the Habs were eliminated by a Game Six loss on Friday night. Meeting with the media today, GM Marc Bergevin updated Gallagher’s status, announcing that he underwent successful surgery in Toronto and is returning to his home in British Columbia today. Additionally, Bergevin revealed that Gallagher had been injured long before his run-in with Niskanen, suffering a hip tear in Montreal’s qualifying round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he played through the injury and it was solely that broken jaw that kept him from playing in the Canadiens’ season finale.
- Several other recently-eliminated players could be back in action sooner rather than later. Sport SK in Slovakia reports that several members of the Slovakian Tipsport Liga are expecting active NHLers to be acquired via contract or loan to begin working out and playing prior to NHL training camps beginning in November. HK Kosice may have the largest haul still to come, with Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin and Calgary Flames prospect Martin Pospisil to be loaned to the team and Ottawa Senators RFA Christian Jaros and free agent forward Tomas Jurco expected to sign. Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak also has ties to the club, but with the Lighting still alive in the postseason and hoping to sty that way for a while longer, he may not need the early start for next season. Slovan Bratislava, which has already received a handful of prospects on loan, are expecting another in the more high-profile Martin Fehervary, the promising defenseman from the Washington Capitals.