TAMPA – After missing the last two games of the road trip, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos appears ready to return to the lineup.
Stamkos missed games in Ottawa and Buffalo with an undisclosed lower body injury suffered in Detroit to open the trip, a game in which Stamkos scored twice and finished with three points.
But as the Lightning took to the ice for the morning skate before hosting Vancouver tonight, Stamkos was a full participant including taking his spot on the top power play unit at the left circle. After coming off the ice, Stamkos said he felt good.
“Felt better after a couple of days, so that’s the plan,” he said when asked if he would return to the lineup.
Head coach Jon Cooper also confirmed the move lan is for Stamkos to be ready to return tonight.
The Lightning will open a five-game homestand tonight with Vancouver first up, followed by Toronto, Carolina, San Jose and Seattle to close out the October schedule. Getting into the rhythm of the schedule and spending two weeks at home is something Cooper said the team needs to take advantage of after a 1-2-1 start to the season.
“iI’s imperative that we start getting some points here,” Cooper said. “I’m disappointed we only came away with one on that trip. And we’ve been pretty good at home in the past, but We just can’t say oh, just because we’re at home that we’re going to get points. We got some good teams coming in here but it’ll be good not bounce around different cities and get to our game here.”
With Stamkos back, lines looked like this:
Alex Barre-Boulet/Brayden Point-Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel-Anthony Cirelli-Steven Stamkos
Tanner Jeannot-Nick Paul-Waltteri Merela
Mikey Eyssimont-Luke Glendening-Conor Sheary
Victor Hedman-Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev-Darren Raddysh
Calvin de Haan-Nick Perbix
Scratches: Austin Watson, Haydn Fleury, Zach Bogosian
Cooper was asked about G Andrei Vasilevskiy and his recovery from back surgery and he said nothing has changed in terms of the timeline to return.
“In his situation, I think you feel much better on the outside and probably what’s going on on the inside”Cooper said. “He’s a workaholic in how he prepares and how he looks after his body. So sometimes you have to pull the reins back a little on him and just let nature take its course and your body take its course. But everything is going according to plan.”
Tyler Motte also remains on schedule after suffering a hand injury opening night against Nashville.
“Just waiting on (the healing), I’d say probably two weeks,” Cooper said.