SUNRISE, Fla. (WFLA) – The injury bug has found a home within the Tampa Bay Lightning organization ahead of Monday night’s regular season finale.
With one game remaining in the regular season, the Lightning will be without forward Barclay Goodrow, as well as three defensemen: Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta.
You can also add Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov to that list. Stamkos has missed the past 15 games with a lower body injury and Kucherov has missed the entire season. He had hip surgery on Dec. 29.
Additionally, Pat Maroon will not be on the ice for that final game against the Florida Panthers on Monday because he is serving a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The odds are obviously stacked against this team but do the Lightning players need to win the upcoming game?
Honestly, the answer is “no.”
The team is already in the playoffs and they will face the Panthers in the first round. If they can beat them in regulation in their final game Monday night, the Lightning will secure home ice advantage. But, as the team has stated in the past, that factor is rather trivial under the current circumstances.
“I do not think home ice advantage is there anymore,” said Maroon. “You have to find a way to win a hockey game either way so I really don’t think it matters for me personally.”
The Lightning organization has increased the number of fans it will allow inside Amalie Arena for the playoffs but that amount is still far from the normal amount.