Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Stamkos on track to return after Olympic break

ORLANDO — After several of Steven Stamkos' shots missed the net during a just-for-fun half-ice scrimmage Thursday at the RDV Sportsplex, Lightning coach Jon Cooper chirped at his star center.

"I was ribbing him that his scope was off a little bit," Cooper said. "All he did was whip in and scored the winning goal."

"It felt great out there," Stamkos said of the broken right tibia that has kept him out of 41 games. "The best it's felt."

As it turned out, missing the Olympics, as disappointing as that was, probably was best for Stamkos, who pushed his rehabilitation hard to play for Canada.

A CT scan Feb. 5 indicated the bone — broken Nov. 11 in Boston when Stamkos crashed into a goal post — was not sufficiently healed. So instead of heading to Sochi, Russia, Stamkos, 24, split time skating and lying on a beach during the 10-day break in practice mandated by the league.

"It did feel good, but it feels even better now," Stamkos said of his leg. "Maybe I wasn't as far along as I thought, knowing how much better it has felt now that I have kept working on it and taking a couple of days off. It's just going to continually get better, and that's positive knowing it's doing that."

Stamkos said he is "definitely very close" to being cleared to play and likely will have an X-ray Monday in Tampa.

The best-case scenario is he plays when the season resumes Feb. 27 at Nashville. The worst-case scenario, he said, is his return is delayed until March 6, when the Lightning begins a home­stand against the Sabres.

"He looks really good," Cooper said. "I think if you were to ask him if he could play right now, he would definitely say he could. There were a lot of times he said he was okay, but you could tell he was feeling the effects of some pain. I don't see that anymore. Time is healing the wound."

As for the wound of not playing in the Olympics, Stamkos, 24, said it was most raw the day he learned it would not happen and then went home and saw his Team Canada paraphernalia.

"Probably took a couple of days," he said of getting his head right.

"I think now it was kind of a relief for that whole thing to be over and done with," he said of pushing to play in the Olympics, "just to get all that stuff out of the way and to focus on one thing, and that's getting back and playing for Tampa."

ON ICE: C Valtteri Filppula (ankle), C Tyler Johnson (foot) and D Matt Carle (foot) missed a second consecutive practice. None are expected to skate before Monday, Cooper said.

MOVES: G Anders Lindback (ankle) has said he expected to be ready for the Nashville game. But Cooper said if the game had been played Thursday, Lindback would have been scratched. That means G Kristers Gudlevskis, coming off a jaw-dropping 55-save effort for Latvia in a 2-1 loss to Canada in the Olympic quarterfinals, will join Tampa Bay, at least temporarily, as insurance. … RW Richard Panik, who played for Slovakia at the Olympics, will return to AHL Syracuse.

SCHEDULE: Practices are at 10:30 a.m. today and Saturday at the RDV Sportsplex. Both practices are open to the public.

Comments
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Published: 05/25/18
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Published: 05/24/18
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Published: 05/24/18
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Published: 05/24/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

The Lightning will miss out on the Stanley Cup final after being shut out by the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolts were the highest-scoring team during the regular season but failed to score in almost all of the final eigh...
Published: 05/24/18
Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

The Lightning was shut out once in the first 97 games of the season, the playoffs included. Then it was shut out during the last two games of the Eastern Conference final, including 4-0 on Wednesday to the Capitals in Game 7.Here are some postgame re...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

TAMPA — After Alex Ovechkin's goal 62 seconds into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, the next highlight was an extended fight between Lightning D Braydon Coburn and Capitals RW Tom Wilson, with a two-minute break for them to spe...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18