The last thing the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted to see was Steven Stamkos crumpled on the ice, holding his leg.
But that was the scene in Boston Monday after Stamkos got tangled up with Boston defenseman Dougie Hamilton and crashed into the goal post. He suffered a broken right tibia on the play and will be shelved for a while.
“It's obviously tough to see him go down, not only for our team — he's one of the best players in the world,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters after the game. “People come out to cheer the Boston Bruins here, and they come to see Steven Stamkos play hockey. It's a loss for everybody.”
Stamkos was playing at a Hart Trophy level. He had 14 goals, nine assists and a plus-11 rating in his first 16 games this season. He anchored arguably the NHL’s top line and he helped the Lightning climb to toward the top of the Eastern Conference pile.
Tampa Bay was pretty much a one-line team. Now more pressure falls on Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn to create opportunities for teammates -- and on goaltender Ben Bishop to win more low-scoring games.