Julien on Stamkos: “You want those guys to be playing”
A couple of cogs from Bruins-Lightning matchups in years past will be missing for the first matinee of the season at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
On one side, the Black and Gold will be without Zdeno Chara for the third straight game with a lower body injury. But there was some encouraging news regarding the 6-9 captain as he skated on his own this morning on the Garden ice.
On the other end, the Lightning continue on without the services on one of the game’s most prolific players. In another unfortunate set of events for Steven Stamkos, the four-time all-star and 2008 first overall pick suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and is at home nursing the latest injury.
The latest setback for Stamkos adds to the growing list of injuries suffered in the last few seasons. In a game versus the Bruins on Causeway Street three years ago, he suffered a broken leg causing him to miss 45 games that year. Two years later, the Lightning superstar underwent surgery to remove a blood clot causing him to miss all but one game of the Bolts’ run to the Eastern Conference Final, returning in time for Game 7 before falling to Pittsburgh.
Though the Lightning are still a formidable bunch without Stamkos – coming into Sunday’s game tied for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Ottawa Senators at 13-8-1 – the game of hockey is much better when the one-time 60-goal scorer is on the ice on a nightly basis. Just ask Claude Julien, who was one of the first people to call Stamkos following his broken leg in Boston a few years ago.
“Well he’s had a lot of injuries, you know, from the time he broke his leg here to last year missing the playoffs. He’s a great player and those injuries are big not only for them but even for hockey – people want to see those players play,” said the 10th year Bruins bench boss. “So it’s not something that you like to see and you’re going to hear people say ‘well it’s nice not to have him play against your team because he’s that good.’ But for the better of the game you want those guys to be playing and trying to sell the game and not worry what disadvantage we can put another team in versus, you know, hoping that guys are injured.”
Stamkos, who signed a new eight-year contract with the Lightning this summer, has 20 points on nine goals and eleven assists in 17 games with the Bolts in 2016-17. Through his career, the 26-year-old is averaging nearly a point per game having notched 582 points (321 goals, 261 assists) in 586 contests.