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Filppula To Miss Saturday, Olympics

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

After skating hunched over to the bench early in the third period Thursday Valtteri Filppula did not return to the game with a lower body injury.

On Friday, it was announced he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right ankle and would be out for three weeks. The news also meant Filppula would not be traveling to Sochi on Sunday.

"I was really looking forward to going to play in the Olympics and I don't really know what to say," Filppula said. "Unfortunately it's part of the sport and now somebody else has a chance to go and play, which is a really great thing.

"It's tough right now, but something positive is that it's not too bad of a break, so I should be back pretty soon after the Olympics."

While Filppula said that he did not know what exactly happened, he said he had taken a shot to the leg in the first period. In the third he felt something "pop" and lost all strength in his leg, saying it was probably a combination of those two occurrences.

Filppula also said that it was not caused from the slash/trip that came from Toronto right before he left the contest, although he felt it should have been a penalty.

The situation, which is just as heartbreaking as Steven Stamkos' absence from Team Canada, can be considered a bit more difficult for Filppula to process at this point since he was bound for Russia in less than three days.

"I think what obviously is the difference is that Stamkos has had three months to prepare for this," head coach Jon Cooper said. "Filppula has had less than 12 hours to prepare. I know he really enjoyed his experience in Vancouver four years ago and this is a tough break."

The silver-lining in all this for Filppula?

Though he will be missing the tournament, there is a good chance he will miss just one game in a Bolts' sweater.

Filppula said in the next two weeks he will have X-rays taken again to see how the ankle is healing and that his target for return is Tampa Bay's first game back after the break in Nashville on February 27 versus the Predators.

"I don't want to miss any more games," Filppula said. "That's my main focus right now."

Lightning Hope To Win One More Without Val

After emphasizing post-game Thursday how important Saturday, the last game before Olympic break would be, it only gets harder with FIlppula and possibly Ben Bishop missing from the lineup.

"It seems like we're going through a lot of adversity with the guys being injured," Teddy Purcell said.

Purcell along with Alex Killorn had been developing some excellent chemistry with Filppula over the past month, but was confident that they would be able to overcome the latest challenge in replacing their second-line center.

"I'm not really sure what we're going to do with the lines, but there are a lot of good players, so we'll be happy with whatever Cooper decides," Purcell said. "We're just going to have to go out there and create some of our own bounces Saturday night."

Cooper also made another interesting point; when handed the adversity the Bolts have been able to overcome and exceed expectations.

"This group has been pretty resilient," Cooper said. "You don't just sail through the season; teams go through these ebbs and flows. If there is any small consolation, we did win in Montreal without Filppula."

He did not hesitate to say, though, that the nearly two-week break in the NHL schedule's timing could not be any more perfect for the Lightning.

"I'm sure that there are teams that are cringing heading into the Olympic break," Cooper said. "We are not one of them."

Ben Bishop, who also did not practice with the team, is considered day-to-day. With his status unknown for tomorrow, Cooper said a call-up is probable from their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.

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