By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Tampa Bay Lightning will remain without captain for the second straight round-robin contest, as Steven Stamkos has been ruled out for Wednesday's game against the Boston Bruins, per Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
The absence comes on the heel of Stamkos saying that the plan was to miss just one of Tampa's three round-robin affairs, and after Tuesday came and went without No. 91 involved in any line drills. Stamkos, who underwent surgery on Mar. 2 to repair a core muscle injury, has now missed 10 straight games dating back to the pre-pandemic regular season.
It's a definite break for the Bruins, too, with Stamkos entering the bubble with 23 goals and 11 helpers in 41 career games against the Bruins, including two goals and an assist in three head-to-heads with Boston in 2019-20.
Nevertheless, Bruce Cassidy is aware that the Bruins are going to have bring everything to the table after watching Monday's heated bout between the Bolts and Capitals, and hope that the Lightning can bring the best out of the sluggish-looking Bruins.
"It went very physical, very spirited with Washington. They're developing a rivalry, obviously with us and Tampa. I expect a lot of the same [Wednesday]," Cassidy offered. "It’ll be physical, competitive. And again, we're trying to build our game and get better every time out. We’re going to need to beat Tampa. Looking forward to it, I think the guys are too.
"It's a tough mental part right now. You don't know who your opponent's going to be next week. You still want to pick up wins. But you’re trying to balance that urgency with preparing for your first playoff opponent. So, tomorrow should be a great test for us, bring out the best in us and again we'll see, but that's what I expect."
The Lightning took three of their four regular-season meetings with the Bruins during the regular season.
And with the Lightning sitting at 1-0-0 compared to the Bruins' 0-1-0 record, Boston needs to win this game to keep their hopes of being the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference alive.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.