PITTSBURGH — Steven Stamkos will not play against Pittsburgh tonight, after also missing Monday’s win over Columbus.
Coach Jon Cooper is hopeful that Stamkos will play against the Oilers on Thursday. Typically, he uses “hopeful” when a player not getting in the lineup would take a setback. Given that Stamkos did not make the trip to Columbus, the chances were already slim that he’d join the team in Pittsburgh.
The cautiously optimistic update from Cooper comes on a day of bad news for injuries around the league . The Oilers will be without Connor McDavid, one of the league’s biggest superstars, for two to three weeks (which obviously includes Thursday’s game at Amalie Arena). Columbus will be without top defenseman Seth Jones for the rest of the regular season. Colorado is without forward Nazem Kadri indefinitely.
Tough day around the NHL.
Stamkos’ current issue is not related to the injury that kept him out of the lineup for three games in November, though both are listed as lower body. This one is a nagging issue.
The Lightning are sticking with the same lineup that worked for them against Columbus on Monday, with Ondrej Palat in Stamkos’ spot on the top line with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli have been reunited on the second line, with Tyler Johnson on the other wing.
Mathieu Joseph, who was recalled on Sunday, remains on the third line with Cedric Paquette and Pat Maroon. The fourth line is unchanged with Yanni Gourde, Mitchell Stephens and Carter Verhaeghe.