Jon Cooper said Anton Stralman's injury is 'baffling'
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his team's mantra during the playoffs has been to stay alive so its injured regulars won't have already played their last game.
But it sounds like Tampa Bay will have to advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the likes of D Anton Stralman (fractured leg), RW J.T. Brown (upper body) and C Steven Stamkos (blood clot) to return.
Cooper said he'd be "shocked" if Brown plays in this series. And Stralman, who reached the six-week mark of his recovery Friday, has been all but ruled out for Sunday's Game 5.
"This one is a little baffling to me," Cooper said of Stralman's return. "I was hoping way back when this series was starting, I was hoping this game or the next one he'd come back."
Cooper reiterated that Stralman hasn't suffered a setback, it's just taking longer than they originally thought. Stralman has been skating on his own, or with the team, the past two weeks, including Friday's optional morning skate. Stralman has yet to participate in a full team skate, though, and hasn't appeared to go through contact drills.
Brown, out since getting hurt in Game 2 of the first-round series agianst Detroit, progressed to skating with a full stick the past couple days, including taking some one-timers Friday morning.
Stamkos also skated Friday, albeit in a red non-contact jersey, though he'd have to be taken off blood thinners to return. Stamkos, expected to be out 1-3 months, reached the one month mark from his surgery Wednesday.