If you ask hockey fans what was the most significant streak of the last playoffs, a very high proportion will answer: “the one involving Steven Stamkos.”
Because yes. The Lightning captain really, in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Final, was the main architect of a presence few will forget.
It must first be remembered that that evening, the # 91 was coming back from a very long period of inactivity: 210 days, to be exact. At the end of February, he had undergone an operation on an abdominal muscle. Then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in North America a few days later.
And while “Stammer’s” rehabilitation was going well, he injured himself again in the same area of his body shortly after the various training camps opened (in July).
In short, on the evening of September 23, when Stamkos jumped onto the ice at Rogers Place in Edmonton to face the Stars, everything seemed to be playing against him.
Except that the great right-hander, as an exceptional player that he is, made lie all those who had risked to bet against him.
At 6.58 minutes into the first twenty, the prolific scorer beat Esa Lindell with speed and quickly won Stars territory. Coming alone in front of Anton Khudobin, Samkos then unleashed his first pitch in over six months (in a game) and saw the puck run aground in the net, lodging in the upper half of the shield.
Almost everywhere on the planet, both experts and amateurs were literally speechless, dumbfounded. How could a player who has been inactive for all this time achieve such a difficult game in a match of such magnitude?
The answer is still held by Stamkos, himself. What we all know now, however, is that Tampa ultimately won that game 5-2 and lifted the Stanley Cup days later.
But let’s come back to this game number three, so remarkable. Overall, Stamkos will have finally made five appearances on the ice. He did not return to the game after scoring.
Even more impressive
If the feat of Stamkos recounted above impressed you, hang on, because important information about this beautiful story was added on Friday. Enough to make this famous goal even more incredible.
In an exclusive interview with reporter Erik Erlendsson, the Lightning captain revealed that he aggravated his abdominal muscle injury just before shaking the ropes.
“At the entry to the zone, Lindell tried to block my way. I then performed a maneuver to the right to avoid it, but felt that one of my abdominal muscles located very close to my left groin had torn. From that moment I understood that something very strange had happened. ”
“To be honest, I knew my season was over. But I also knew that I had the puck on my stick blade and that I had to keep going, at least until the end of the streak. Afterwards, there is a kind of blank in my head. I just remember the moment Pat Maroon hugged me. ”
Unimaginable psychological pain
And there’s more. Beyond the stifling physical pain felt by Stamkos during the presence told above, this interview masterfully conducted by Erlendsson also revealed that the No. 91 had, moreover, participated in the final despite a unimaginable tragedy having touched his family.
As the Lightning rubbed shoulders with the Bruins in the second round, Stamkos got the dreaded appeal by all expectant parents. His wife, in tears, informed him of the death of her unborn baby. The fetus had sadly passed away at 21 weeks of pregnancy.
“I came home and we faced this incredibly difficult ordeal,” Stamkos said.
“It was probably the worst ordeal of my life. I felt that I had to face this situation with my wife. No one can really understand without having experienced something similar. ”
It is therefore a Steven Stamkos diminished both physically and psychologically who returned to the game in the grand final.
(Very) little balm on wounds probably alive forever, the Canadian striker can at least say that his perseverance will not have been in vain …