Eduardo A. Encina - Lightning Reporter

Lightning Reporter

I’m back for my second stint at the Tampa Bay Times. You may recognize my byline from back in the day when I covered the Rays, Lightning and high school sports. After seven years working in my hometown of Baltimore as the lead Orioles writer at The Baltimore Sun, I’m back covering the Lightning. If you have a story idea, email me, tweet me or send me a three-eyed raven. When I’m not working, I’m likely outside hiking (preferably out of cell-phone range), getting charged by a mountain goat, Instagramming my food, plotting my second career as an astronaut or taking hacks at the nearest indoor batting cage.

  1. Lightning center Steven Stamkos missed all but one game of the postseason last year, but the team hopes to have him back before the end of the regular season in May.
  2. Coach Jon Cooper says the Lightning expect to have Steven Stamkos back possibly as early as May 5.
  3. The Panthers acquired defenseman Brandon Montour from the Sabres after losing Aaron Ekblad to a season-ending leg injury, but Montour is no Ekblad.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos stretches before an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)
  5. A look at the Amalie Arena loft area that's being transformed into a living area for five for the Lightning's Room and Boards experience.
  6. Fireworks shoot into the sky during the opening of WrestleMania 37 Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  7. Coming off their worst loss of the year Tuesday night in Nashville, forward Tyler Johnson and the Lightning hope to get back to form Thursday as they open a four-game stretch against division rivals Florida and Carolina. Johnson is in the middle of an 11-game goal drought.
  8. Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney (35) stops a shot by the Nashville Predators as defenseman Victor Hedman (77) assists, during the second period Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.
  9. Lightning defenseman David Savard (58) and Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) watch the puck during the second period.
  10. “History has proven that you will need depth on defense if you are going to have an extended playoff run,” Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said in a statement.
  11. WWE Superstar Roman Reigns reacts after defending his title at WrestleMania 37 on Sunday night.
  12. Yanni Gourde scores an empty-net goal against the Predators with 46 seconds left in the Lightning's 3-0 win Saturday night in Nashville. Twenty seconds later, he got an illegal  hit in the head from the Predators' Michael McCarron.
  13. David Savard (58) is one of the league’s best when it comes to being a big body down low and blocking shots.
  14. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy blocks a shot against the Predators in the second period of Saturday's game in Nashville.
  15. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos likely will be out the rest of the Lightning's road trip in Nashville.
  16. Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. shows off the WWE championship belt the Bucs received after winning the Super Bowl during the boat parade celebration in February in Tampa.
  17. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos appears unlikely to play in the Lightning’s next game Saturday in Nashville.
  18. Before he had the swagger of a WWE champion, Roman Reigns said he went to Tampa nearly 11 years ago to compete in Florida Championship Wrestling not knowing how to do anything inside a ring. "I didn’t have a tool, let alone a box to put anything in."
  19. Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard, left, reaches for the puck in front of goalie Joonas Korpisalo during an April 6 game against the Lightning. Now Savard will join Tampa Bay's team after a trade.
  20. Lightning forward Steven Stamkos controls the puck next to Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier during the first period Thursday.
  21. Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania will always be tied together. But having WWE's marquee event in his hometown is extra special.
  22. WWE global ambassador Titus O'Neil thanks executives from the Tampa Bay area's four professional sports teams during a community event on Tuesday.
  23. Bianca Belair will face Sasha Banks for the SmackDown women's title at WrestleMania 37 on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.