Steven Stamkos' presence 'uplifting' to Lightning
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos may not be playing in these playoffs, but he still has a presence around the team.
Stamkos, who had vascular surgery to fix a blood clot April 4, was at the Lightning's team dinner Tuesday, the eve of the first-round series with the Red Wings. He also attended Wednesday's Game 1 victory over Detroit, watching from the lockeroom.
Stamkos is out 1-3 months following surgery, diagnosed two weeks from yesterday.
"It's just killing him not being able to play," coach Jon Cooper said. "When he was in the hospital I'm sure myself and everyone else on the team went to see him before we went on the road trip. It's remarkable. It seems like it just happened and it's actually two weeks ago yesterday. He's been in touch with a lot of guys, he's staying out of the public eye, but it's just hard, we want him playing. He wants to be playing so bad.
"You see (Anton) Stralman (fractured leg) limping around, you can see what happened. But what happened to Steven is inside his body. So it's different. He's in good spirits, just a tough part he can't jump on the ice."
Several teammates visited Stamkos at the hospital Monday, before he was released. Wing Alex Killorn said Stamkos' message was to keep their playoff run, "Just go to the finals and maybe I'll see you guys."
"It's awesome having him around, he can still bring that leadership," wing Ryan Callahan said. "He's been there before, he knows what wer'e going thorugh, how we're feeling. It's good, it's uplifting to have him around the room."
More from morning skate: Callahan, who missed Thursday's practice due to body maintenance, skated this morning and said he's good to go for Game 2. Callahan may have to play with some pain, having missed the final three regular season games with a lower-body injury. "Day by day," he said. It looks like the same lineup for tonight, with RW Erik Condra, RW Jonathan Marchessault and D Matt Taormina scratched. G Ben Bishop is in net, G Jimmy Howard for Detroit.. One of the bigger challenges for the Red Wings entering Game 2, as well as the rest of the series, is slowing down the Lightning's hot line of Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov, which was responsible for all three goals in Game 1. "Speed, skill, talent, determination - they've got the whole package," Wings D Niklas Kronwall said. "One thing we need to do is take away more time and space from them. When they get that extra step on you, they make it hard. But if we can be there right away, I think it's going to make it harder for them." While it's been definitely different not having usual partner Anton Stralman (fractured leg), D Victor Hedman said it's been a relatively smooth transition with veteran Matt Carle. "It's going very good, I think," Hedman said. "It's obviously a little bit of a difference, but I think we complement each other very well."