Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Stamkos reportedly breaks tibia: Three players that must step up for Tampa Bay Lightning

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Steven Stamkos appears to have badly injured his leg as the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Boston Bruins. The Bolts were blanked by a 3-0 final, but the true cost of the loss might be a long-term injury to superstar forward Stamkos. He was stretchered off the ice and was clearly in pain after colliding with the goal and Boston’s Dougie Hamilton.

Here’s a look at the play for the uninitiated.

The Lightning originally offered little in the way of updates, but did indicate that Stamkos would be undergoing X-Rays at a nearby hospital in Boston.

While the team has release no official word, various sources are reporting that the forward has broken his tibia and that the injury will require surgery.

While there’s no official timeline at this juncture, it’s safe to assume that if these reports are accurate that the Lighting will be without their leading scorer for quite some time. Depending on the severity of the break and the exact location, recovery can take upwards of four to six months in some cases.

That means that Tampa Bay will be going to war without their leader in just about every important offensive category for the foreseeable future. The team can’t just roll over and wilt though, and believe it or not, they may have the offensive firepower and the defensive wherewithal to overcome this devastating loss.

Here are three players that could collectively save the Lightning’s season in light of this loss.

Martin St. Louis

Probably no surprise here. Martin St. Louis is Stamkos’ top line mate, and the pair typically are good for several big-time offensive opportunities a game. Without Stamkos riding shotgun, St. Louis is going to have to elevate his game even more. That is right inside St. Louis’ wheelhouse though, as he’s only one season removed from leading the NHL in scoring.

He’s already performing at a point-per-game pace and is the kind of player that makes those around him better. Look for St. Louis to really knuckle down to develop chemistry with Alex Killorn while Stamkos recovers.

 

Valtteri Filppula

The Lightning didn’t go out and get Valtteri Filppula to be the squad’s No. 1 center, but he may have just drawn into the position with the Stamkos injury. Now would be a pretty marvelous time for the usually streaky forward to clean up his game and post some points on a regular basis.

He shows flashes of brilliance from time to time, and for the Lightning to stay afloat without their best player, guys like Filppula will need to step up their games. The quick forward has 12 points in 16 games so far and has two goals in his last four games. He’ll need to maintain that sort of pace moving forward.

 

Alex Killorn

The ringer in all of this is Killorn. He’d been inserted onto the top line alongside St. Louis and Stamkos and has been a boon for the Lightning recently. Was his success only because he was paired with this top-end duo though, or does he have more to bring to the table as an individual?

We’ll know the answer to that question in a relatively hasty fashion. Tampa may look to Killorn to pick up where Stamkos left off as the go-to guy alongside St. Louis.

After a hot start, Killorn has gone pointless in three consecutive games. He’ll need to pick up the pace for the Lightning to survive this ordeal.

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Tags: Martin St. Louis Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning Valtteri Filppula

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