Matt Carle could return tonight for Lightning
The Lightning could be getting a key piece back on its blueline heading into tonight's Game 4 against the Islanders.
Veteran defenseman Matt Carle, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, felt good after today's optional morning skate, saying he'll be a "game-time decision" tonight.
"You get more nervous watching than you do playing," Carle said. "So it's not fun to have to watch."
Carle's return could be big for Tampa Bay, which was loose defensively in a 5-4 overtime win in Tuesday's Game 3. Carle had been playing well alongside Victor Hedman, helping the team try to replace injured Anton Stralman. With Carle back, the pairings could go back to normal, with Andrej Sustr with Jason Garrison.
By the looks of today's skate, it would appear Slater Koekkoek would be in the lineup again, with Nikita Nesterov and Matt Taormina, both among the last to leave the ice, potential healthy scratches. Forward Erik Condra, who missed the last two games with an upper body injury, is available to play, but was one of the last off the ice too so likely is out. That would mean Jonathan Marchessault stays in, if the team goes with 12 forwards and six defensemen.
Captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) participated in the optional skate, albeit in a red non-contact jersey. Stralman also skated, though didn't appear to do any contact drills.
The most encouraging news today for the Lightning was the progress of J.T. Brown (upper body) who practiced with a full stick for the second straight day. This time, Brown was ripping one-timers, appearing to look like normal. Brown hasn't played since Game 2 of the first round series with Detroit.