Steven Stamkos says there's a chance he plays this series
The fact Lightning captain Steven Stamkos wore a blue jersey - rather than a red non contact one - at Friday's optional morning skate created a buzz at Consol Energy Center.
It was really much ado about nothing, considering there was no contact in these optional game-day skates. Stamkos status hasn't changed, he's still sidelined while on blood thinners as he recovers from April 4 vascular surgery to fix a blood clot in his collarbone area.
But Stamkos did say there's a chance he could play sometime during this Eastern Conference Final against the Penguins. At least, he hopes.
"There's a chance," Stamkos said. "That's why I'm putting in the hard work. If there wasn't a chance, I'd have pom poms out and be a cheerleader."
Instead, Stamkos has been skating and practicing hard the last few weeks, including another hour-long session Friday, making sure he's ready when he's given the green light to play. He's done everything but contact drills.
The key continues to be when Stamkos can get off blood thinners, though the All-Star indicated he doesn't necessarily have to be off them to play. He said he could just be on a different regimen of the medication, having discussed that option with doctors.
"Obviously you have to make sure there's zero risk when you're going out there playing," Stamkos said.
Defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured left leg) went through another long workout, saying he's making progress. He's started to do contact, his body responding well. While Stralman won't play tonight, and is unsure about Monday's Game 2, he's hopeful he can play in this series.
"It's getting a little bit bettter every day," Stralman said. "I'm trying to push it a little bit harder and so far so good."
What needs to happen for him to play?
"I guess we'll find out," he said. "The foot is obviously the biggest decision maker, and when that feels good it's all conditioning stuff."
Wing J.T. Brown appears the closest to returning, potentially tonight in Game 1. He said he's nearing thee point where he felt before suffering the upper body injury in Game 2 of the first round series.
In Penguins news, Matt Murray will start in net.