Filppula still too sore to play as Lightning opens busy stretch
Valtteri Filppula had high hopes of playing in Thursday's game with the Predators, but the Lightning center said his fractured right ankle, which was injured Feb. 6 against the Maple Leafs, still is too sore.
Filppula came out at the end of Thursday's morning skate in a red no-contact jersey.
I wish it was better," Filppula said. "It's getting better, but not good enough to play with. It's frustrating, but hopefully it starts moving a little faster going forward."
Coach Jon Cooper said Filppula is day-to-day and expects him to play on the four-game road trip that also goes through Dallas, Denver and St. Louis, part of a closing stretch of the regular season in which Tampa Bay plays 24 games in 46 days.
Filppula, 29, has had a wonderful season for the Lightning with 20 goals, 41 points in 56 games. He was hurt in the first period in Toronto when he took a shot off his right ankle. He played into the third period. He has missed one game so far.
Filppula, who skated during the team's mini camp in Orlando and also practiced Monday and Wednesday, said quick turns are the most problematic and so is getting up to speed after a stop.
"It's just one of those things, just skating I really can't hurt it more," Filppula said. "I don't think I pushed it too much. I feel we did everything we could to make it good enough to play. It's not there yet."
Other stuff from the morning skate: With Filppula out, Vlad Namestnikov, called up Wednesday from AHL Syracuse will play between former Crunch linemates J.T. Brown and Nikita Kucherov. ... Tom Pyatt also will play between Teddy Purcell and Alex Killorn. ... Ben Bishop gets the start in net, but with Anders Lindback (ankle) with Syracuse on a conditioning stint, Kristers Gudlevskis is the backup. ... Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mike Kostka will be the other scratches. ... Kostka, 28, who was picked up on waivers from the Blackhawks will get at least a couple of practices before he gets in a game, Cooper said. But Kostka, who played for Cooper at AHL Norfolk during the Admirals' 2011-12 Calder Cup championship run, said he is excited about the opportunity with the Lightning. "I was just hoping I would be picked up by some place where I can showcase my skills," he said. "It was just gravy that it ended up being a place I was familiar with." And not just with Cooper but players who also played on that Norfolk team. "I hope it's a good opportunity," said Kostka, who missed almost two months of the season with a foot injury. Like I said, if there's a team you're going to get picked up by I guess it's the best situation to get picked up by a team where you're familiar with the system where you've had great chemistry in the past." Cooper said Kostka will be a depth defenseman in the way Jean-Philippe Cote and Matt Taormina was during their call-ups. Kostka, though, has a bit more offensive upside and "might find his way to the power play at some point." ... Namestnikov was impressive during his NHL debut on Feb. 8 against the Red Wings with 11:55 of ice time. "He used his speed. he didn't get caught on the wrong side of the puck. When he did get the puck he moved it," Cooper said. "He was just solid out there . Hopefully, he can do that for us again tonight." ... With Marty St. Louis adamant he was not going to answer questions every day about perhaps being traded, talk on Thursday turned to the Olympics. St. Louis said the big Olympic ice, rather than creating opportunities for more offense, actually limits offense. "You beat a guy, you still have so much more distance to go, so you run into somebody else. And (the defense) really stays in front of the net. You have a lot of room on the outside but not on the inside." ... Given the injuries Finland faced, defenseman Sami Salo said his bronze medal "ranks right up there with some of the achievements I've had."