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Ryan Callahan ‘on schedule’ in return for Lightning

By Joe Smith | Times staff writer
Published: December 29, 2017
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TimesChicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) defends against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) during the first period of Wednesday’s (11/22/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

When Lightning wing Ryan Callahan got hurt on a spill into the boards Dec. 14 in Arizona, the team said he'd be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks.

So it's been an encouraging sign that – just two weeks out – Callahan has skated with the team on back-to-back days, albeit in a red non-contact jersey.

"We're on schedule," coach Jon Cooper said.

Callahan will travel with the Lightning on its upcoming five-game road trip that ends Jan. 7 in Detroit but is not expected to play. But Callahan should be close by the time Tampa Bay comes back.

"He has definitely made progress," Cooper said. "It's great to see him out there. Now it's going to be a feel and conditioning thing. He's a good week away for sure. After a week, then I'd sit here and say he's on day-to-day watch."

Lining up

D Anton Stralman, who missed Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, participated in a long optional skate this morning. Cooper had indicated that Stralman is more likely to return Sunday in Columbus than tonight against the Flyers, but we'll see.. With Stralman out, Dan Girardi served as Mikhail Sergachev's primary partner, with the rookie defenseman playing well in 18 plus minutes, Cooper said..  Judging by the lonely few who were skating today, RW J.T. Brown could be a healthy scratch with the team going with seven defensemen. G Peter Budaj was first off the ice, meaning he'll make his seventh start of the season.

Johnny on the spot

Tyler Johnson's assist Thursday means he's got at least a point in his last 10 games, with five goals and 10 assists over that stretch. It's the second most points he's put up in a month in his career (17 in Dec. 2014). And this has all come since Johnson moved to right wing, playing alongside Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat.

Cooper said Johnson had been playing well before this streak, and getting his chances, and has finally got rewarded.

"Johnny is a big part of our team," Cooper said. "Talk about guys buying into roles for the betterment of the team, that's what Tyler Johnson did. Not only is our team having success, but success is following him as well."

Nuts and Bolts

C Steven Stamkos, making an emphasis to shoot more, had seven shots on goal in Thursday's two-goal performance (14 attempts). He's got 15 shots in his last three games after tallying just 11 combined in his previous six… The Lightning is 10-1-0 in its last 11 games.. Tampa Bay is 8-1-1 in its last 10 home games against the Flyers, which are also coming off a back-to-back. Former Lightning center Valtteri Filppula has 16 points (eight goals) in 37 games for the Flyers this season, a minus-4. The four teams that have played the Lightning on the road on zero days rest this season are 0-5, according to STATS PASS (Penguins twice, Sharks, Wild, and Canadiens).