Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Steven Stamkos picks up skating pace

TAMPA — Watching C Steven Stamkos zip around the ice at Thursday's practice, it was hard to tell anything is wrong.

Though Stamkos, recovering from April 4 surgery to fix a blood clot in his collarbone area, was still in a red noncontact jersey, his skating seemed the same. On the ice with teammates for the third consecutive day, Stamkos participated in some drills and conditioning, and even took his trademark one-timers, albeit with not quite as much force.

"He looks like himself," LW Alex Killorn said. "He looks like the 'Stammer' we know."

There has been no change in Stamkos' recovery time line — it is still one to three months — the All-Star awaiting the moment he can get off blood thinner medication, which is preventing him from contact and game-like situations. But Stamkos said that once he gets the okay from doctors to stop taking blood thinners — no appointment for that is scheduled — he would need just a 12- to 24-hour period before being cleared for more intense work.

That's why the Lightning's leading scorer will continue to ramp up activities, though coach Jon Cooper said he expected to play the second-round playoff series against the Islanders that began Wednesday without Stamkos.

"It's just giving myself a chance if that time arises … and that visit to the doctor comes and they say, 'You're okay to resume play,' " Stamkos said. "It could be weeks. It could be months. That's the tough part about it."

It was also difficult for Stamkos to watch Wednesday's 5-3 loss in Game 1.

"You catch yourself thinking, 'What if I was out there, what if (D Anton Stralman, out with a broken leg) was out there?' " Stamkos said. "That's just the game of what-ifs in your head. That's the crappy part about it."

CONDRA OKAY: It didn't look good Wednesday when RW Erik Condra took a nasty fall into the boards early in the first period on a hit by Islanders C Casey Cizikas.

Condra looked dazed and had to be helped off the ice by a trainer and two teammates. He never returned to the game.

Cooper seemed encouraged Thursday about how Condra was feeling.

"That was a hit that looked really bad," Cooper said. "But he's doing a lot better than the actual hit looked."

Cooper didn't appear to have an issue with Cizikas' hit, which came near the Lightning red line as Condra was sending a pass up the ice. "A hockey play," Cooper said.

Cooper said he wasn't sure if Condra would skate in the next few days or be available for Saturday's Game 2. Tampa Bay may have a forward or two from the group of extra players called the "black aces" practice today.

"(Condra is) fine; he's in good spirits," Cooper said. "Just a tough one

MINOR MATTERS: The Lightning and AHL Syracuse announced a six-year affiliation extension. The two have been together since the 2012 season, with 36 players appearing with both teams in that time.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Fifteen players participated in the optional practice at Amalie Arena. The Lightning was scheduled to practice at 11 a.m. today at Brandon's Ice Sports Forum, the Islanders at 1:30 p.m.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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