Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Crombeen sits; Stamkos 'maturing'

NEWARK, N.J. — B.J. Crombeen said he has not had concussion symptoms since his fight Tuesday with the Flyers' Zac Rinaldo.

Even so, the Lightning right wing was held out against the Devils on Thursday as a precaution, coach Guy Boucher said.

"He's fine to go," Boucher said, "but he also has another injury (left foot) he's been playing on. Sometimes circumstances give you a direction easy to take."

Crombeen left Tuesday's game after his first-period bout in which he took several heavy punches to the head, at least one when he was on his knees in a defenseless position.

Boucher said the heightened awareness of the effects of head trauma was part of the decision to hold Crombeen out. "It's touchy," he said. "It's a lot more touchy than it used to be. I remember when I was playing, you got knocked out and you didn't know what was going on. But if you could say what your name was, you were back in after 10 seconds. It's changed for the better that we're more careful."

Crombeen gets that, but it still is difficult, especially after he skated Wednesday and rode the stationary bike Thursday without concussion symptoms. "Every ounce of me wants to be out there with the boys," he said.

Crombeen, whose four fights entered Thursday tied for second in the league and who has fought 82 times in the NHL, said he understands the concussion risk but "there's a chance something can happen walking down the street. … It's kind of what you signed up for, so you do the best to protect yourself and make sure those kinds of things don't happen."

OLDER, WISER: Steven Stamkos has naturally gotten stronger as he has grown older. But he also has gotten wiser, though the center, who turned 23 Thursday, called it "experienced."

"I'm learning, maturing as a person and a player, picking up different things every day I play," Stamkos said. "It's going to be an ongoing process until the day you're done playing."

For Stamkos — whose 186 goals by age 23 are fourth all time behind Wayne Gretzky (329), Dale Hawerchuk (220) and Mario Lemieux (215) — the most significant changes have nothing to do with his skill set.

"My mind-set compared to the first 40 games of my rookie season is night and day," he said, "the confidence level, what you expect of yourself, what your teammates expect of you, knowing your opponents. Those are the things you pick up."

STORM WARNING: Saturday's game at Boston still was on, though a storm expected to bring up to 2 feet of snow is a concern. Generally, the league considers postponing games if a team is not present or a state of emergency is declared by local officials. The Lightning was scheduled to fly to Boston after Thursday's game (the bigger issue is getting out for Sunday's game at the Rangers), and as of Thursday night a state of emergency had not been declared.

ODDS AND ENDS: Boucher played 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Devils. D Brian Lee and RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie also were scratched. … D Brendan Mikkelson played his second game of the season and first since Jan. 22 against Carolina. D Marc-Andre Bergeron played his third game.

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