Tampa Bay Lightning's Michael Kostka skated in a regular practice jersey Thursday alongside Eric Brewer and will play versus the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.
After he suffered a concussion that left him momentarily unconscious on the ice nine days ago, Kostka said he was a little surprised that he was returning to the lineup as quickly as he was, but with that type of injury you just never know.
"It's tough with concussions," Kostka said. "You don't try to put a timetable on it because you don't know how bad it's going to be."
Head coach Jon Cooper also reassured that from a medical standpoint he is cleared to play.
"He's gone through and passed every single test," head coach Jon Cooper said. "You have to come back from those at some point."
Last season Kostka broke his finger during the Toronto Maple Leaf's first playoff game, making him all the more eager and excited to play in the postseason next week.
"It was a bitter way to end the playoffs last year," Kostka said. "To be able to be a part of the playoff push and to now move into the playoffs, I'm thrilled."
While Kostka is slated to return, fellow defenseman Sami Salo will not. Salo did not skate the past two days since leaving Tuesday's contest early in the second period with an upper body injury. Cooper suggested though, that the injury is not considered long term, and he hopes to have Salo play in at least one of the Bolts final two regular season games.
A Detroit Red Wings shutout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night made it official that the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens will face-off in Round 1 next week.
Cooper said that knowing its opponent ahead of time gave the coaching staff more time to focus on improving the Lightning now, as they only have to prepare themselves for the Habs.
"Now your goals are narrowed down a bit," Cooper said. "You're playing to make sure your team is prepared for the playoffs and we're still fighting for home ice."
MORNING SKATE: GOALTENDER
Netminder Anders Lindback gets the call between the pipes with Ben Bishop injured. Lindback is a perfect 2-0-0 versus the Philadelphia Flyers this season.
Kristers Gudlevskis was also recalled Wednesday afternoon and was on the ice this morning. He will serve as Lindback's backup tonight.
Gudlevskis said he is focused on getting better every day. If that warrants playing time, he said he would be ready to go. Cooper said there is a chance Gudlevskis could play Friday or Sunday, but nothing is certain.
If the 21-year-old does appear in at least one contest, he would have played in the ECHL, AHL, NHL and Olympics all in one season.
OTHER ODDS 'N ENDS
- Teddy Purcell is skating in his 400th career game Thursday.
- Besides the above changes, the rest of the lineup remains the same, meaning Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, B.J. Crombeen, Cody Kunyk and Ryan Malone are scratched.