The Tampa Bay Lightning will be without star forward Steven Stamkos for the start of their second round series against the Boston Bruins. Stamkos is still rehabbing, according to head coach Jon Cooper.
The 30-year-old is nursing a lower-body injury that he sustained during the Lightning’s pre-postseason training camp. And, Steven Stamkos has yet to practice with his teammates since.
“He’s not available right now,” said Cooper. “When he is going to be available, I will let you know. But, there’s no further updates. And so, I’ll address it when it comes available.”
With Steven Stamkos out, forward Brayden Point has been the difference maker for the Lightning. Skating alongside Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, Point has tallied 5 goals and 5 assists in eight games. Point scored the winner in the fifth overtime in Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also scored, again in overtime, in Game 5.
In five games against the Blue Jackets, Palat has just one point; an assist in Game 2. Kucherov, on the other hand, has 7 points (1g, 6a). Kucherov is going into the series against the Bruins having tallied three assists in the Lightning’s last game against the Blue Jackets.
Tampa and Boston did meet in the Round Robin tournament where the Lightning came out on top 3-2. Point had opened the scoring for Tampa. His linemate, Palat, found Kucherov towards the goal where Kucherov took a shot, but was denied by Tuukka Rask. However, Rask was unable to control the shot, creating a rebound that Point found and buried.
While the Bruins did come back from a 2-0 deficit, the Lightning scored a late third period goal and handed Boston their third loss in the Round Robin.
But, the playoffs are a different story, and both teams are coming out of series that they both won in five games. Both teams have lost key players; the difference being Stamkos has yet to return while David Pastrnak (who missed three playoff games) returned for the Bruins final game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Puck drop for Game 1 is Sunday at 8 PM ET.