Stamkos out indefinitely with meniscus tear
UPDATE, 5:40 p.m.: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.
General manager Steve Yzerman said the team is evaluating different rehab and repair options. So the exact recovery time is not yet clear.
"Our understanding is that this issue can be repaired and he can get back to full speed,'' Yzerman said. "It just takes some time."
Either way, it's a big blow for the Lightning (10-6-1) to lose its leading scorer in Stamkos, who is off to a hot start with nine goals and 20 points, which ranks second in the league. Stamkos got hurt Tuesday in the first period against Detroit and was sent back to Tampa Wednesday for evaluation.
"Obviously he's disappointed,'' Yzerman said. "He's going to work his rear end off and he'll be back as good as ever."
Expect a callup from AHL Syracuse, like Cory Conacher, for Thursday's game against Buffalo.
DEVELOPING: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will head back to Tampa for further evaluation on a right leg injury suffered in the first period Tuesday.
The team said there is no further updates, but the fact Stamkos is getting sent home isn't a good sign he'll return on this five-game road trip, which continues Thursday in Buffalo.
Teammates were concerned when Stamkos grabbed the back of his right knee after getting tangled along the boards midway through the first period of a 4-3 win over Detroit, slowly skating off the ice.
"You never want to lose players, especially one of the best players in the world," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "He's our leader. We'll see the extent of what happened. Not much we can do."
Coach Jon Cooper said after Tuesday's game there was hope the injury to Stamkos was "minor," pointing out it's "not anything like" what happened almost exactly three years ago in Boston, when the All-Star broke his right tibia Nov. 11, 2013, forcing him to miss 45 games.
"We'll have to wait and see," Cooper said.
Stamkos had been off a stellar start, with a team-leading nine goals, and his 20 points ranked second in the NHL heading into Wednesday's games. Not only is Stamkos out, but top-pairing defenseman Anton Stralman (upper body) missed his second straight game. Wing Jonathan Drouin (upper body) has missed seven games, though appears close to a return.
The Lightning found a way to win Tuesday, and will rely on its depth. like it did in the first two rounds of last year's playoffs, when Stamkos and Stralman were both out. Would imagine there will be a callup, like a Cory Conacher, if Drouin isn't ready.
"It's something we've been through before," Cooper said. "You never want to lose your top goal scorer, and your captain. But not too long ago we were in this situation."