DETROIT — D Anton Stralman is moving closer to a return to the Lightning lineup.
"Not for (the) first round," coach Jon Cooper said. "Maybe second round."
Stralman (fractured left leg) traveled with Tampa Bay to Detroit for Games 3 and 4. And while Cooper said Stralman won't play in this first-round series, he's making progress from an injury sustained March 25. Stralman did an off-ice workout Sunday morning with strength and conditioning coordinator Mark Lambert, and he rode the stationary bike.
"If we're fortunate enough to move on, then now we can start talking about, 'There's a chance of seeing him,' " Cooper said. "But there's no timeline."
But like with captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot, out at least one month and maybe three), having Stralman around the team can be impactful.
"He's an extremely popular player on that team," Cooper said. "He keeps things light in our group. Much like when Stammer was around our team, part of our success is we have a close team, so the more these guys are around, it's been good for everyone. Plus, you see them around, you feel like, 'Okay, they're coming back.' "
Next man up: RW Erik Condra was excited enough to play in Game 3 after being a healthy scratch in the first two games.
But being from the Detroit area makes this even more special — and expensive — because of the number of ticket requests from family and friends.
"Have to be paying to play (Sunday), that's for sure," Condra said, smiling.
Condra got an opportunity because of J.T. Brown's upper body injury, sustained Friday, that will keep him out the rest of the series. Cooper shuffled the bottom six, with C Vladislav Namestnikov moving up to play with LW Cedric Paquette and RW Ryan Callahan.
Condra slotted in with C Brian Boyle and RW Mike Blunden, a grinding line that clicked late in the season. Condra was minus-1 in 7:28.
"They've been really effective," Cooper said. "It should be a seamless transition."
Condra's defensive play, and penalty-killing ability, likely gave him an edge over RW Jonathan Marchessault, who was a healthy scratch for the third straight game (along with D Matt Taormina).
Chicken?: After Wings F Justin Abdelkader didn't drop his gloves in a post-buzzer scuffle with C Brian Boyle, the Lightning center did a chicken dance.
Abdelkader — who drew the Lightning's ire for repeatedly punching Blunden in a brawl Friday — said he would have liked to have fought Boyle, but he's not 100 percent and his hands were taped.
"I asked the ref if I cut him, it is a misconduct there and I already got one, so I've got to be careful," Abdelkader said. "Obviously I want to stand up for myself, too, but this time of year when you've got injuries and you're banged up, you've got to be smart, too."
Coach Jeff Blashill said he told Abdelkader before the game not to fight because he's "too valuable of a player." Asked about Boyle's chicken dance, Abdelkader said, "It's kind of funny, but if he wants to do that, that's what he wants to show, whatever."
Proud papa: D Nikita Nesterov's wife, Katerina, gave birth to a boy, Mikhail, at 3 a.m. Thursday, hours after Wednesday's Game 1. Nesterov stayed with his wife and child until they were released from the hospital Saturday, flying up to Detroit on his own.
Contact Joe Smith at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.