Steven Stankos Tampa Bay has been skating intermittently with lightning, but the center is not ready to play, coach Joan Cooper said Monday.
Although Cooper ruled out playing Stamkos in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders before the series began on September 7, he opened up the possibility of playing in the Stanley Cup Final if the Lightning went ahead. New York lead 3-1 in the Tampa Bay Best-of-7 Series and reach the Stanley Cup Final, which goes into Game 5 on Tuesday (8pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Stankos has been shining in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but has not played since February 25. The 30-year-old suffered a minor body injury before training camp for the post-season began July 13.
“He’s skating on and off,” Cooper said. “He’s been in a rehab (routine) and he’s been skating himself most of the day or, if we have options or some guys skating, like today, he’s with the boys. But there are some things he can do and can not do. Nothing changes in the game at any time. “
At the camp, Stankos took part in a few exercises with the top power-play unit, but did not complete practice after the lightning came to Toronto, the center of the Eastern Conference, through the second round playoffs on July 26. He has not fully rehearsed recently.
Stankos scored 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 57 regular-season games, second behind Lightning Nikita Kucherov (85 points; 33 goals, 52 assists in 68 games). He underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury on March 2 and missed the last five games before the NHL season ended on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“When [Stamkos] Ready, I’ll give you an update, “Cooper said.” He is skating. … When you can’t play, you have to shine in other areas and he will definitely help in the leadership department. “
Although Stankos did not play, his teammates praised him for being around. He has experienced a lot in his 12 NHL seasons, including a lightning final tour to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, when they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games and conference final appearances in 2016 and 2018.
“He’s our captain, he’s the leader of our team, he’s a lot of our team, he’s a huge part of this organization. Alex Killern Said on September 9th. “Right now, whether he’s telling us certain things or checking us out is that leadership role. He’s definitely part of it and we rely on him in that sense. His leadership is a kind of calming effect on our team.”