TAMPA, Fla. -- Forty-three games into the season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing more than fine without Steven Stamkos. In fact, they've thrived despite one of the most painful, one of the most gruesome, setbacks imaginable.
Who saw this coming?
Most were prepared to write the epitaph on Tampa Bay's playoff chances after the Bolts' star center broke his right tibia on Nov. 11 at TD Garden. What has happened since, though, is a testament to the ability of Jon Cooper's team to survive, so much so that playing past mid-April seems like a real possibility.
There are so many faces who have contributed to the cause: Marty St. Louis, still timeless; Valtteri Filppula, a smart addition; Ben Bishop, a steady presence between the pipes. There are others who have played a part as well, and this is the greatest development of the Lightning's rise: It takes a group to move past a major individual loss, and Tampa Bay has shown life didn't end on that dreary day in Boston.
There remain ques...