There are Four Big Questions facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020-21.
It is finally time for some hockey with the 2020-21 NHL Season starting today and, as such, we are getting to the end of our Season Previews with the Tampa Bay Lightning our focus right now.
After years of heartbreak and disappointing endings to promising seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally got their hands on the most coveted prize in all of sports last year, the Stanley Cup.
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Yes, after learning from their humiliating First Round sweep to the Columbus Blue Jackets the year before, the Lightning refused to let anything stop them in 2019-20, including a global pandemic, and they were the last team standing inside The Bubble in Edmonton.
It was well-deserved for a Tampa Bay team that has been an absolute juggernaut over the last few years, and that core finally dragged themselves over the finishing line.
So, what’s next?
Well, after some sorcery by General Manager Julien BriseBois to get his team cap compliant while re-signing a number of key pieces, the Lightning will be bringing back pretty much the same roster in 2020-21 that claimed the Stanley Cup last year, except for one or two faces.
Of course, they will be without superstar forward Nikita Kucherov for the duration of the 2020-21 regular season after he underwent hip surgery in the offseason, but there should be more than enough talent on this roster to enable Tampa Bay to get to the postseason without one of their biggest weapons.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 4 Big Questions facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2020-21 NHL Season…
4. Will Steven Stamkos be able to stay healthy?
One of the defining images of the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be of Steven Stamkos returning for less than three minutes against the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final, scoring what was a crucial and momentum-turning goal in Game 3.
That was Stamkos’ only goal and only action of the postseason as a core injury kept him sidelined for most of the postseason, but the sight of the Tampa Bay Lightning Captain racing away in delight after scoring a huge goal brought joy to the heart.
Of course, having been battered by a plethora of different injuries over the last few years, there were some concerns that one of the most naturally-gifted players to ever play in the NHL might be forced into an early retirement.
However, after undergoing a second successful surgery to fully repair the core injury he reaggravated inside The Bubble, Steven Stamkos is expected to be fully healthy and ready to go once the puck drops on the 2020-21 NHL season today.
And that is incredibly good news for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After all, Stamkos demonstrated during the 2019-20 regular season that he was as close to his peak as possible, recording 66 points (29 G, 37 A) in 57 games, and he is only two years removed from putting up a 98 point season (45 G, 53 A) in 2018-19.
So, when healthy and still only 30, there is no doubt that Stamkos is still capable of being one of the best players in the NHL, as well as one of the biggest lethal offensive weapons.
It is encouraging then that, post-surgery, the Lightning Captain has looked pretty much back to his best throughout Training Camp and his team will be leaning on him more than ever in Nikita Kucherov’s absence.
If Steven Stamkos can remain healthy and put up monster numbers that he’s more than capable of, then don’t rule out the Tampa Bay Lightning repeating as Stanley Cup Champions in 2020-21.