Lightning journal: Injured Ryan Callahan shows promising progress

Ryan Callahan has been out with an upper-body injury. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Ryan Callahan has been out with an upper-body injury. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Dec. 29, 2017

TAMPA — When Lightning RW Ryan Callahan suffered an upper body injury Dec. 14 in Arizona, the team said he'd be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks.

So it is encouraging that — just two weeks later — Callahan has already skated with the team on back-to-back days, albeit in a red non-contact jersey.

"We're on schedule," coach Jon Cooper said.

Callahan will travel with the Lightning on its upcoming five-game road trip that starts Sunday in Columbus and ends Jan. 7 in Detroit. By the time Tampa Bay returns, Callahan should be getting close to his return.

"He has definitely made progress," Cooper said. "It's great to see him out there. Now it's going to be a feel and conditioning thing. He's a good week away for sure. After a week, then I'd sit here and say he's on day-to-day watch."

Lining up

D Anton Stralman missed his second straight game with a lower body injury, but participated in a lengthy optional skate Friday. Cooper had indicated that Stralman is more likely to return Sunday in Columbus.

With Stralman out, D Dan Girardi served as D Mikhail Sergachev's primary partner, with the rookie defenseman playing well in 18 plus minutes Thursday, Cooper said.

The Lightning went with seven defensemen, as Andrej Sustr and Slater Koekkoek both drew in against the Flyers.

G Peter Budaj made his seventh start of the season.

Johnny on the spot

Tyler Johnson's assist Thursday means he's got at least a point in his last 10 games, with five goals and 10 assists over that stretch. It's the second most points he's put up in a month in his career (17 in December 2014). And this has all come since Johnson moved to right wing, playing alongside Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat.

Cooper said Johnson had been playing well before this streak, and getting his chances, and has finally got rewarded.

"Johnny is a big part of our team," Cooper said. "Talk about guys buying into roles for the betterment of the team, that's what Tyler Johnson did. Not only is our team having success, but success is following him as well."

Shootin' 'Stammer'

C Steven Stamkos, making an emphasis to shoot more, had seven shots on goal in Thursday's two-goal performance (14 attempts). He entered Friday with 15 shots in his last three games after tallying just 11 combined in his previous six.

Numbers game

0-6 Record by teams who played the Lightning on the road with zero days rest this season, like the Flyers did on Friday.

Familiar face

Former Lightning C Valtteri Filppula, 33, made his return to Tampa for the first time since getting dealt at the February trade deadline to the Flyers. Filppula entered Friday with 16 points (eight goals) in 37 games for Philadelphia. He was always a class act, a quiet leader for Tampa Bay during playoff runs. But that $5 million cap hit this season Tampa Bay saved could loom large, especially at this year's Feb. 26 deadline.

Joe Smith can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.