TAMPA — How big of a blow is not having D Anton Stralman for the Lightning? Stralman has become one of the top two-way defensemen in the NHL. He is out indefinitely with a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula.
On Monday, there was some good news off the ice concerning Stralman.
Stralman was named the Lightning's Masterton Trophy nominee from the local Pro Hockey Writers' Association chapter. The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded to the individual who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The 30 nominees will be later whittled to three finalists. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas in June.
Stralman has overcome bronchiectasis, which prevents mucus from being cleared from the lungs, early in his career to now being a top two defenseman with the Lightning. He finished in the top 15 in voting for the Norris Trophy last season and has 18 goals in his two seasons with Tampa Bay, matching the totals from his first seven seasons played with the Devils and the Rangers.
Filppula returns: Tampa Bay welcomed C Valtteri Filppula back. He missed the previous six games with an upper-body injury. F Ryan Callahan (lower-body injury) missed his fifth straight game. RW Nikita Kucherov (lower body) and Stralman (second game) were all out for Tampa Bay.
Because of the injuries, Filppula moved to the top line centering Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn. Filppula and Stamkos played together last year as the team rolled to the Stanley Cup final but haven't played together much this season.
"These guys have played together," coach Jon Cooper said. "We went to the Stanley Cup with them as one of our big lines. "My worry is Fil hasn't played (since March 13). He's been off a bit and we hope he gets his timing back."
Moving to the wing: Stamkos has been red hot, with points in six straight games including an assist Monday, and seven goals in eight games. He did that while playing center, however. With the return of Filppula and the other injuries, Stamkos moved to wing as Filppula centered the top line.
"It's not something that I'm going to lose any sleep over," Stamkos said. "I've been able to do that. I think as a natural center going to the wing is easier than a winger going over to center. I played that position multiple times before in the past. It's really not an issue for me heading into games now."
This and that: Erik Condra, who had two assists Monday, and wife, Ryan, are expecting their second child today. Condra sped out of the arena as soon as the game was over. … D Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist Monday. He leads the team with 36 assists this season. … The team reassigned forward Joel Vermin to the Syracuse Crunch after the game.