The entire hockey world had a first-rate seat to witness Steven Stamkos' busted schnozz. What everyone seemed to miss was the Lightning forward's shoulder injury that hampered him throughout the playoffs.
Stamkos admitted Monday that he suffered a shoulder injury in Tampa Bay's first-round series against the Penguins, according to the Tampa Tribune, and it really limited him then. However, he said he gradually improved as the postseason progressed.
"I was a little banged up in the Pittsburgh series, but you know, it wasn't anything that I think really affected my play,'' Stamkos told the Tribune. "When the game started, you're running on adrenalin and stuff and I felt pretty good for the most part. I feel like I got better and better as the playoffs went on.''
Stamkos, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, had an NHL-high 96 goals over the last two seasons, but tallied only six goals and seven assists in 18 playoff games. He also only had one positive rating throughout the postseason. Stamkos did get better through the series against the Bruins with two goals and five assists in the last six games.
Many wondered if Stamkos was hiding an injury during the Lightning's first two series because his scoring took a steep decline. But no one will question his toughness after he took a puck off the nose and only missed a few minutes in Tampa Bay's Game 7 loss to Boston.
"Everyone fights through those little bumps and bruises,'' Stamkos told the Tribune. "You never want to use that as an excuse. I just banged up my shoulder a little bit. But like I said, we got on it pretty good early on, and I don't think it affected my play.''
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