After undergoing an X-ray Monday afternoon, Steven Stamkos learned he was not cleared to play in the Tampa Bay Lightning's four-game road trip, which begins Thursday, February 27 at the Nashville Predators. With his long-term health always being factored in as the most important part of his return, it is necessary for the Bolts to be careful in the process of clearing Stamkos to play.
Since breaking his right tibia on November 11 Stamkos has missed 41 games due to the injury, yet he has seen vast improvements in his play throughout his rehab and continues to progress, even reporting no pain during practice on Monday.
During Tampa Bay's mini-camp in Orlando this past weekend, Stamkos said he felt very comfortable in cutting, turning and stopping situations and that he didn't feel any pain at all. Those were areas that prior to the Winter Games Stamkos was hesitant in going 100 percent in.
Cooper also saw his confidence rise post-Olympic break.
Hoping to make a comeback in time for the Winter Olympics, the Bolts alternate captain was disappointed to learn earlier this month, on February 5, during a CT scan that he would be unable to participate with Team Canada. He had then targeted this Thursday as a possible return date.
Now with Monday's news, Stamkos is looking ahead at the Bolts' next homestand, which starts on March 6 versus the Buffalo Sabres, as his next target for return. He is expected to go in for another X-ray on Wednesday, March 5.
Although he may not be cleared to play in time for the Lightning's first home game in nearly a month, Stamkos is on track to return to the lineup sooner than later.
The Lightning's upcoming road trip also features the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues.