Steven Stamkos: Is the Lightning captain enjoying in Sport 5?

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Steven Stamkos: Is the Lightning captain playing in Game 5?

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s captain Steven Stamkos suited up for his first game in bubble hockey on Wednesday. He may have only skated a total of two minutes and 47 seconds — but he made a massive impact as he netted a goal on his only shot.

After a 5-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and an overtime win in Game 4, the Lightning are now one win away from the franchise’s first championship since 2004.

But will he suit up again? That is an unknown as he said postgame he’s working through an issue and added “it was too early” to say if he would be able to play in Game 4 on Friday, or in the remainder of the series.

Stamkos posted 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 57 games during the 2019-20 truncated season. In 71 career playoff games, he’s now collected 24 goals and 30 assists — including 18 postseason points when the Lightning last went to the Stanley Cup Final back in 2015.

When he plays, Stamkos brings a much-needed offensive boost not only to the lineup, but also the Lightning’s struggling power play that has dropped from 23.1 percent efficiency during the regular season to 19.4 in the postseason.

Before playing in Game 3, the last time he hit the ice was Feb. 25 when he scored an assist and extended his point streak to 15 games (12 goals, 10 assists). On March 2, Stamkos had surgery to repair a core muscle injury and was expected to miss six to eight weeks. While he hadn’t played in the round robin or the first three rounds of the playoffs, he’s been in the bubble and was on the ice when the team was handed the Prince of Wales Trophy as the 2020 Eastern Conference champions.

So, will he play another game? Sporting News is keeping track of the captain’s participation in the final.

Stanley Cup Final Game 1

  • Did he participate in the morning skate? Yes.

  • Did he participate in warmups? No.
  • Did he play in the game? No.

Stanley Cup Final Game 2

  • Did he participate in the morning skate? Yes.
  • What did Jon Cooper say in pre-game availability when asked about Stamkos? “So if you’ve been following anything, my press conference, I really don’t reveal anything about our lineups. So, you’ll have to tune in tonight to find out and it’s probably frustrating for a lot of people, especially if they have social media, but we’ll have our lineup tonight and 20 guys are gonna be in the lineup (that) will give us the best chance to win.”
  • Did he participate in warmups? No.
  • Did he play in the game? No.

Stanley Cup Final Game 3

  • Did he participate in the morning skate? Undetermined but probably no. Based on the video the NHL provides, he was not in any of the shots.
  • What did Jon Cooper say in pre-game availability when asked about Stamkos? “He’s inching closer … He’s getting closer.”  
  • Did he participate in warmups? Yes.

  • Did he play in the game? Yes, and he scored a goal.

MORE: Stamkos returns, scores goal in Stanley Cup Final Game 3

Stanley Cup Final Game 4

  • Will he play? No. Cooper said during availability on Thursday that he wouldn’t know anything, or have any update until Friday morning. Well, on Friday morning when asked if he will play in Game 4, Cooper said: “Not tonight, he’s not going to play. But we haven’t ruled him out for the series.”

Stanley Cup Final Game 5

  • Will he play? No. At Saturday’s availability, Cooper said: “We’re not going to see him tonight.” Tampa Bay will try to win the Stanley Cup now without its captain, who will certainly be on the ice at the end of the night if they do clinch the 2020 championship.