Stamkos takes first spill, but "big step" in recovery
When Lightning star center Steven Stamkos slipped and fell to the ice during Thursday's morning skate, he didn't hold his breath, or his surgically-repaired right leg.
"I was kind of laughing," Stamkos said. "But it was kind of nice, mentally, to fall because it's the first time I've fallen in 10 weeks. So I had a good streak going. But just knowing everything was fine, I got right back up and didn’t feel any pain whatsoever. So, that was nice."
Stamkos said Thursday was a "big step" in his recovery from a broken right tibia. He still wore a red jersey, but he participated in every drill for the first time and felt he kept up. The next step would be getting cleared for contact.
There's still no timetable for Stamkos' return; his goal was to be back to play for Team Canada in the Sochi Olympics next month, and there's seven Lightning games between now and then.
But Stamkos, who was set to have his 10-week x-ray Thursday night, remains optimistic.
“(Thursday) was the most crossing over and keeping up with the play; I felt really good,’’ Stamkos said. “A lot of this is mental, and I’ve learned that a lot through this process, just trusting that the bone is good. ...I know it is, but still certain movements you feel a little tweak and are a little cautious.
“Today was a big step in that. I did every drill and I could keep up, the pace was good. I thought today was a great day.’’
More from the morning skate: D Victor Hedman will return to the lineup after missing just one game following getting hit in the inner right leg with a shot Saturday night. "It hurt a little bit, stung for a few days, but feel lucky that it wasn’t anything major,’’ Hedman said. “The way it hit me, I felt mad. You don’t want to get hurt at this point of the season. But I’m happy I only missed one game."...The Lightning will go with seven defenseman and 11 forwards, with B.J. Crombeen and Hedman the only different players in the lineup from Sunday...Sounds like captain Marty St. Louis, who missed Tuesday's practice due to illness, is fine... G Ben Bishop will be in net...Though D Mark Barberio said he'd cut his long hair after scoring his first two NHL goals Sunday, he's still waiting to find the right charitable-tie in for it before shredding his locks...Crombeen said his diabetes charity event at the forum Tuesday raised $70,000 for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; most of the Lightning, plus Rays manager Joe Maddon and OF Sam Fuld, were on hand.