Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos, Lightning in injury routines

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Almost a week into Steven Stamkos' recovery from a broken right tibia, there are routines.

The Lightning center is at his Tampa home, rehabilitating and wearing an Aircast, a postsurgical walking boot filled with, well, air. "Standard procedure for him to be wearing that after the surgery that he had," head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said.

Coach Jon Cooper and his players also have overcome the shock and are focused on staying in playoff contention until Stamkos returns, though no official timetable has been announced.

Cooper reiterated Saturday that he believes Stamkos, who had a permanent titanium rod inserted in his leg Tuesday, will play again this season. "I don't think his season is over. I'm very confident it's not," Cooper said. "His career is not over, he's not been traded. He's a big part of us. You just have to weather the storm."

That seemed awfully difficult Monday, when Stamkos was hurt in a 3-0 loss to the Bruins.

"That Monday night, Jon Cooper held a pity party, 100 percent," Cooper said. "But when I woke up the next day, that was it. It was over. It's game on."

Part of that, Cooper said, is putting players "in the right situations. (Stamkos) affects things. He affects the (penalty kill), who goes out. Our power play is completely changed. But in a weird way it's opened my eyes to what different guys can do."

What is Stamkos doing?

The Aircast gives him some mobility and comfort. He can even take it off for treatment, GM Steve Yzerman wrote in a text message, impossible with a hard cast. "He has to wear it when he walks on it … and when he sleeps to keep his ankle in a stretched position," Yzerman wrote.

CHANGES: Perhaps most of all, Stamkos' absence has affected personnel on the power play.

In Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Coyotes, forwards Valtteri Filppula, Teddy Purcell and Marty St. Louis, and D Victor Hedman were the first unit. The second unit was forwards Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik, Alex Killorn and Brett Connolly, and D Sami Salo, with Radko Gudas sprinkled in.

Beyond two goals scored in Thursday's 5-1 win over the Ducks, which broke a 0-for-21 power-play slump, the shifts have greater effects, Cooper said: "Now there's not the go-to guy we are going to. We've got to make plays. Now there's more movement. … When Stamkos comes back, he's going to be first over the boards on the power play. But we're going to have a different mentality when he does come back."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Salo played after missing two games with a lower-body injury. … D Mark Barberio (left hand/arm) and D Keith Aulie (upper body) were scratched. Both skated in the morning, Aulie in a no-contact jersey. Cooper said both might be ready by the trip's end Friday.

ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay got its first loss against the West (7-1-0). … The Coyotes (9-0-1) and Ducks (8-0-0) are the only teams undefeated at home in regulation. … F P.C. Labrie and D Dmitry Korobov also were scratched.

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