Uncertainty if Anton Stralman will return on road trip
While Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury, coach Jon Cooper isn't sure if he'll return on this five-game road trip.
"I can't sit here and say that, to be honest," Cooper said. "Definitely not playing in these two, probably won't play in the first three. We'll start making a decision here after a week. It'd be later in the trip if we're going to see Anton."
Stralman left Saturday's game with about five minutes left, appearing to favor his mid-section area, whether it was his abdomen or ribs. It's unknown what the exact injury is, but Stralman had already been banged-up as it was, having missed two practices last week due to "body maintenance."
With Stralman out, defenseman Luke Witkowski was recalled from AHL Syracuse. Witkowski won't play tonight against the Islanders, but Cooper acknowledged it'll need to be a group effort to replace one of the team's top defensemen. The Lightning does have the experience of surviving the first two rounds of the playoffs last year without Stralman, who had suffered a broken leg late in the season.
"He's a huge part of our team," Cooper said. "Injuries happen in this game, happen all the time. Somebody's got to step up, the whole group has got to step up. Attention to detail in the defensive zone is that much greater."
The defensive pairings at this morning's skate were Victor Hedman-Andrej Sustr/Nikita Nesterov-Jason Garrison/Slater Koekkoek-Braydon Coburn.
More from morning skate: G Andrei Vasilevskiy will start tonight, the first end of a back-to-back, with G Ben Bishop likely playing Tuesday in Detroit...RW Jonathan Drouin (upper body) continued to skate in a red (non contact) jersey, but Cooper said he's progressing and could play on this trip.. The Lightning lines had a little different look, with Brayden Point and Alex Killorn flip-flopping spots. Killorn will start with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, Point reunited with Valtteri Filppula, along with Ryan Callahan. "They have a little chemistry," Cooper said. "Point didn't score when they were together, but I think it helped Val." While Witkowski was disappointed he didn't make the Lightning's opening night roster, he said there were "no hard feelings," and he made sure he was ready for this callup, which came after Saturday night's game. "I don't control if they're keeping me on the opening night roster, just got to keep doing my thing and try to play well," Witkowski said. Witkowski was honored to take over as Crunch captain, saying former captain Mike Angelidis helped prepare him for the role the last couple seasons. "He'd say, when you're captain you're going to have to do this,'" Witkowski said. "He probably knew I'd follow his footsteps."