Watching Steven Stamkos shoot pucks on a mat atop the ice into a net a short distance away, it is obvious he is missing the time away from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think I was stir-crazy the moment I knew I’d be out awhile,” he said. “I think that was the toughest part, watching the games and knowing I can’t do anything, especially in the tough stretch we are in right now.”
Yet Stamkos is still trying his best to make an impact on his team, even if it is from the press box rather than the ice.
“There were a lot of times in the locker room where we would Skype him right before the game,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “He goes out of his way to be here when we are here and it just shows you what type of kid he is.”
Every two to three weeks, which is pretty standard, Stamkos will go in for X-rays to see the progression in his broken right tibia as it heals. Yet there is still no timetable on when he’ll be back, despite rumors that his target date was February 6.
“It’s all about how fast the bone heals, that part is a bit tricky, but I have to have a goal and I work towards my goal,” he said.
And that means the Olympics is something that will remain to be determined for the long haul of his recovery.
“I won’t be playing in the Olympics unless I’m 100-percent,” Stamkos said. “That’s been something I’ve been saying since Day 1. At the end of the day you have to look at the team here in Tampa Bay that I want to help win a championship with. I wouldn’t expect them to take me if I wasn’t 100-percent.”
While Cooper did not expand on Eric Brewer’s status besides the fact that the defenseman is “hurt,” he did say that the team is still targeting a Saturday return date for Radko Gudas.
Gudas skated for the first time Wednesday since leaving the Bolts’ game on November 22 after dropping the gloves with the Anaheim Ducks' Luca Sbisa. In the game Gudas did return to the bench with an ice pack on his face, but it was later announced he was day-to-day with an upper body injury.
The blueliner said it felt good to be back on the ice, but felt a tad out of shape. He is eager to be back in the lineup though, especially with Brewer sidelined now too.
“I don’t like watching hockey on TV,” he said.
The doctor told him earlier that he would be given the go as soon as he felt okay, but the Lightning will make sure they take extra steps in making sure Gudas is ready.
In addition P.C. Labrie, who skated on Monday, was on the ice in a red, no-contact jersey practicing with the team and said he is hopeful that he will be back within the next four or five games.
There have been a few announcements made this week that have involved a number of Bolts prospects. Monday first overall pick by the Lightning in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Jonathan Drouin, was welcomed to Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp. Later in the day news broke that he was also the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s First Star the month.
Drouin amassed 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 10 games with the Halifax Mooseheads in the month of November.
Goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy was invited to Team Russia’s World Junior Camp Tuesday and Wednesday forward Adam Erne was among the 26-man preliminary roster for Team USA.
ODDS ‘N ENDS
The Bolts recalled defenseman Matt Taormina from their AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch. Taormina, 27, has collected two goals and eight assists and currently leads all Crunch blueliners for points.
Sporting an array of colored jerseys, the Lightning underwent some line shuffling Wednesday that looked like:
Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Martin St. Louis
Teddy Purcell-Nate Thompson-J.T. Brown
Alex Killorn-Valtteri Filppula-Nikita Kucherov
B.J. Crombeen-Dana Tyrell-Richard Panik
Tampa Bay wore black helmets, pants and gloves during practice Wednesday and are expected to wear their third alternate jerseys Saturday versus the Winnipeg Jets.