Luckily for the Tampa Bay Lightning they won’t have to try and survive an entire season without their captain, Steven Stamkos. Last April the Tampa star forward had to get surgery on a blood clot. The prognosis was he’d be out 1-3 months. On May 26th he played against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.
This year he tore his lateral meniscus. Stamkos has the option of having the surgery. When Steve Yzerman did the same thing to his knee they just cleaned out the cartilage. His knee never got better and nine years later he had an additional surgery that we all remember.
“Obviously we had a depleted bench. Starting with 11 forwards. Some guys went down (against the Flyers it was Brian Boyle who was scratched just before puck drop). It was a good effort from everybody to come out with this one.”
Ryan Callahan was the New York Rangers captain from September 2011 until March 2014. During that time he was viewed as a heart and soul player. A gamer. A guy who could make things happen, sometimes for him, many times for others.
“Guys get injured. Guys go out. You don’t replace a guy like Stamkos,” Callahan said. “I think it’s done by committee. We’ve had experience at it unfortunately last year in the playoffs. Everybody steps up. Everybody takes a little bit of a bigger role and we keep moving forward.”
Now 31, he’s worldly. He no longer gets close to playing a full season but he played 77 for Tampa in 2014 and 73 last year. He’s still getting double-digit goals but 20 seems tough for him to get right now. Much of his salary is predicated on his worth in the room as a leader and being a leader on the ice.
His 2.8 hits per game lead the team. His 10 blocked shots ranks him third among Tampa forwards. He still sacrifices his body leaving everything on the ice. That may be able to keep the competitive seat warm enough until Stamkos inevitably returns once again.
“I think that’s when we’re at our best. When we’re defending,” Callahan said just like his coach Jon Cooper. “We’ll get our opportunities. We’ll get our chances. When we’re worried about our net. I feel like that’s when we’re playing our best and we are hard to play against.”
That hasn’t been the case for part of this young season but now it has to be.
“It hasn’t been there all year but when it is I think that’s when we’re at our best,” he divulged.
photo by Drew King