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Steven Stamkos: My body will never be 100 percent again

But will the Lightning captain be ready for Game 1 against New Jersey Thursday? "That's the hope."
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) before a face off against the Florida Panthers during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (03/06/18). DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) before a face off against the Florida Panthers during second period action at Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (03/06/18). DIRK SHADD | Times
Published Apr. 9, 2018
Updated Apr. 9, 2018

BRANDON — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos skated Monday during practice for the first time since suffering a lower body injury April 1 against the Predators.

When asked if he will play Thursday when the Lightning faces the Devils in Game 1 of the playoffs, he said, "That's the hope."

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When asked if he will be 100 percent Thursday, Stamkos said, "Listen, my body will never be 100 percent regardless, going through the stuff that I've been through, so there's no point in asking about percentages."

What has he gone through?

• A torn lateral meniscus in his right knee last year that knocked him out for nearly all of the season.

• A blood clot near his collar bone that forced him to miss all but the final game of the Lightning's 2016 run to the Eastern Conference finals.

• A broken right tibia that forced him out of 45 games and the Winter Olympics in 2013-14.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was encouraged by what he saw on the ice from Stamkos, who was not limited in any way during practice.

"I kept checking up on him during the practice and he said he was feeling good and feeling good," Cooper said, "so we are definitely hopeful."

Stamkos did not play in the final three regular-season games.

"It was something that was obviously tough. You want to be in those games," Stamkos said. "I think the more important games are now and just to make sure I try to feel as good as possible heading into the playoffs, so it was something that was needed to be done. Hopefully it keeps progressing and I feel great come Thursday."

Contact Roger Mooney at rmooney@tampabay.com. Follow @rogermooney50.