Bolts' Stralman Will Be Sorely Missed
On Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost stalwart defenseman Anton Stralman, who suffered a broken fibula. The next day they took a crushing 5-2 home defeat at the hands of Atlantic Division rival Florida. There may not have been a direct correlation between the two events; the Lightning bounced back the next game to score a victory over lowly Toronto. But there are definite concerns that the absence of Stralman will have a dire effect on the remaining games for Tampa Bay.
The Power Of a Defenseman
Can one defensive player mean so much to the success of a hockey team? Apparently the Lightning think so. They tried desperately to add an extra defenseman before the trade deadline in order to prevent this very gap. Stralman has been a huge part of the Bolts defense, and crucial to their special teams. For the past four playoff years he has played in more than 80 postseason games. This year Stralman has contributed 34 points and has a plus/minus of 16, second best on the team.
#tblightning confirms surgery won't be needed for Anton Stralman, who is out indefinitely, at least rest of regular season + beyond— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) March 26, 2016
''He's such a huge part of our club,'' center Brian Boyle said. ''The way he plays, the way he is here inside the (locker) room. It's a loss, we understand that, but we can't dwell on it."
The Lightning's follow-up victory over Toronto was a 3-0 shutout, credited to goalie Ben Bishop, who, along with defenseman Victor Hedman, will be the men they will now turn to for key efforts at that end of the ice. With Stralman, the three were key elements in the Lightning run to the Stanley Cup finals last season. Now Tampa Bay will be counting the days, hoping that Stralman will be back before their season concludes.
Playoffs And Beyond
The fibula fracture will be tough to recover from. Stralman is listed as out indefinitely. With 93 points and six games remaining, the Lightning should secure a playoff spot. But with three other Eastern Conference teams within two points of them, it is hard to say how they will be paired. And they've had injuries on the offensive end lately, with Ryan Callahan missing the last five games and Nikita Kucherov out against Toronto. All told, the Lightning's chances of making another Cup run are surely diminished.
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