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Steven Stamkos out again Sunday against Stars

The Lightning trusts Steven Stamkos, who has overcome a broken leg and blood clot in the past few years, to determine when he's good to go.
The Lightning trusts Steven Stamkos, who has overcome a broken leg and blood clot in the past few years, to determine when he's good to go.
Published Apr. 2, 2017

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos didn't need much deliberation to make the call on whether he'd play Sunday against the Stars.

Immediately after coming off the ice following another extended morning skate, Stamkos was asked if he'd be back tonight.

"No," he told the Times.

Coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Stamkos is out, the superstar still working his way back from mid-November right knee surgery. However, Tyler Johnson (lower body) is "up in the air" for tonight, and the Lightning is "hopeful" on defenseman Jason Garrison, Cooper said.

But with Stamkos, it's all up to him. There's no more doctor's clearances needed, no quota of practices with contact.

The Lightning trust Stamkos, who has overcome a broken leg and blood clot in the past few years, to determine when he's good to go.

"Stamkos has been through some extremely serious injuries the last few years," Cooper said. "The one that's the best judgment and probably the only judgment that really matters is him. If he's not feeling right, he can't go."

And Stamkos clearly doesn't feel right, yet. There's been some ebbs and flows throughout the process. The key could be how Stamkos feels Monday following back-to-back hard skates. Tuesday's huge game in Boston would be an ideal time to return, as would be Thursday's game in Toronto.

But as Stamkos told the Times Saturday, not even he could guarantee he'll be back in the final five games.

"I think I've done all I can do," Stamkos said. "It's a process. You see how it feels after a tough skate, see how it feels the day of. That's pretty much where we are. It feels good some days; it doesn't feel good some other days. You have to have a feel for what maybe the new norm is, at least for the rest of the year."

More from skate: Veteran backup Peter Budaj will start, keeping with the team's trend of starting him every four games. That leaves Andrei Vasilevskiy ready to start Tuesday against Boston, Thursday against Toronto. "We didn't bring Budaj in here to sit," Cooper said. C Cedric Paquette (lower body) also skated today.

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