By Brett Malamud
By Mike Basile
The Monday Matinee between the Bruins and the Lightning ended in a 3-0 loss for the Lightning. The real loss today took place in the second period of the game when Boston’s Dougie Hamilton sent Steven Stamkos stumbling into the net. Even the Boston crowd froze as they watched as Stamkos’ leg bent awkwardly and he laid on the ice, riving in pain. The unimaginable for Stamkos and the Lightning became a harsh reality when the stretcher was brought out onto the ice, and he was taken off. The question is: can this team carry on with the loss of their superstar?
Now with Stamkos out indefinitely, this team needs to find a way to cope without him. This is not going to be an easy task, and they may need some time to adjust. They just lost their scorer, and a player who was on his way to an MVP caliber season. Stamkos had 23 points in 17 games and was a great plus 11. Realistically, you can’t just go out and find another Stamkos. Right now, the Lightning are leading the Atlantic Division with 24 points. With the Lightning playing great hockey, I think they will continue their winning ways without their leader in uniform.
When you lose a guy like Stamkos, you would think that the key is to go and find someone to replace him. However, I disagree. I think that now with Stamkos out, Ben Bishop will be the key for this team. The 26-year-old Bishop has been great this season in net, with a 2.12 goals against average. He will have to be the backbone of this team. His 92.7 % save percentage also tells me that he really could be the best option between the pipes. If Lindback does not step up when he plays, Bishop will have a heavy load to carry the rest of the way.
I know you guys probably hear veteran leadership all the time, but this Lightning team really needs that now. When you lose a superstar like Stamkos, you have to keep the team at high hopes, and that will be the job of Martin St. Louis. Not only is he the second leading scorer on the team, he has to be a vocal leader in the locker room. Matt Carle will also have to step up as a defensive leader for this Lightning team. A little bit of leadership to keep this team on its high horse is very important.
Finally, the young guns are going to have to play a big role and it starts on defense with Victor Hedman. Already a plus seven on the season, he needs to keep that up and step up in the scoring category. Alex Killorn will also need to step up his offensive gameplay, as he has played well early. If he keeps this up, the team will be A-Okay.
At the end of the day, I think the Tampa Bay Lightning will be able to win without Steven Stamkos. I do not think that they will finish first in the Atlantic, but I do think they will end up in the playoffs. This team has solid goaltending and great veteran leadership. If the young guns can play mistake free hockey, Tampa Bay will show everyone they are not a one-man show!
Mike Basile is a sophomore at York College Of Pennsylvania. He is a huge sports fan, and when it comes to hockey maybe considered a little obsessive. Giving insight on the Islanders and all things hockey. You can follow him on twitter at @mikeybasile1