Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Steven Stamkos works at wing to relieve leg stress

Stamkos practices at wing to help leg

TAMPA — Steven Stamkos admitted there are days his right leg feels better than others, not unexpected considering it took his fractured tibia four months to heal.

To relieve some of the stress the leg endures in games, and perhaps to create more chances to produce offense, it is possible the Lightning center will be at wing tonight against the Panthers. It might be for the entire game or a shift here or there. Or it might not happen at all.

Still, Stamkos — who has no points and eight shots and is minus-2 in three games since he resumed playing, with an average 22:47 of ice time — worked at wing Wednesday on a line with center Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. "It's a little less skating if you play the wing," he said. "You're not necessarily in the battle as much down low in the defensive zone, so it takes a little stress off that way."

Stamkos played wing for Canada at the 2013 world championship and occasionally has at other times in his career, so the transition shouldn't be a big deal. The tougher adjustment has been mental. Stamkos said he sometimes finds himself "thinking about trying to brace yourself for the contact instead of the play. "

Said coach Jon Cooper: "I'm not sure what everybody expected. … But he's getting better every game. At some point, the dam's going to break for him."

Damian Cristodero, Times staff writer

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