Olympic break helps injured Lightning players

Published Feb. 20, 2014

BRANDON — G Ben Bishop said that if the season, which is on Olympic hiatus, resumed today, he could play.

But the Lightning goaltender admitted his sore right wrist is not 100 percent and probably won't be for the rest of the season. That is why the 10-day break mandated by the league did him so much good.

"I just want to go out there and give the team a chance to win every night," Bishop said Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum, where 15 Tampa Bay players resumed practice. "If I'm not 100 percent, still try to go out there and give the team a chance to win."

Bishop is just one of several injured players who benefited from the time off.

C Steven Stamkos (leg) and G Anders Lindback (ankle) skated and looked sharp. C Tyler Johnson (foot), C Valtteri Filppula (ankle) and D Matt Carle (foot) took the day off.

Except for Stamkos, whose availability might hinge on next week's X-ray, coach Jon Cooper said there is a chance his injured players will be ready by Feb. 27, when the season resumes at Nashville.

"All the guys you're not seeing skating right now, if we were playing, they wouldn't have played," Cooper said, and added, "I would say I hope they are ready to play. I would not say I expect them to be ready to play. But I don't think expect and hope are that far apart. The big sign will be who you see on the ice Monday. That will give us a better idea of who will be ready to play."

BIG DAY: Stamkos, out 41 games with a broken right tibia, said an X-ray he believes will happen Monday "will be the deciding factor" as to when he resumes playing. The best-case scenario is he plays Feb. 27, Stamkos said. The worst case is he plays during the homestand that begins March 6.

PRACTICES: The team practices at 10:30 a.m. today, Friday and Saturday at the RDV Sports­plex in Orlando. Practices are open to the public.

HONORED: Cooper will miss Friday and Saturday to travel to Green Bay, Wis., where he will be honored by the Gamblers of the U.S. Hockey League and drop the ceremonial first puck before Friday's game with Rochester.

"It only takes maybe a second and a half to drop a puck," said Cooper, who coached Green Bay from 2008-10 and won the 2010 title. "But I'm really excited about that second and a half."