PITTSBURGH - Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was on the ice for warmups for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Thursday. He was the second Lightning player on the ice, preceded by starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Stamkos has not played since March 31 because of a blood clot near his right collarbone. The Lightning captain had vascular surgery April 4 to clear the blood clot, and the estimate for his recovery was 1-3 months. Thursday was less than eight weeks since his surgery.
When Stamkos was asked in the morning whether he would be able to play in Game 7, he replied, "No status change. No."
He arrived early at Consol Energy Center on the bus along with the rest of the Lightning players preparing to play in Game 7. Stamkos has been skating with them for more than a month.
"We're preparing to put the best team possible on the ice to win Game 7," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said in hie pregame remarks. "There's going to be guys that cannot play. … Everybody that plays tonight, they're cleared to play and ready to go. Our guys will concentrate on winning Game 7. This is arguably the top couple games of our careers as a group together, and we're going to put our best foot forward. And if Stamkos is in the lineup, it's our best foot forward, and if he's not in the lineup, it's because he wasn't eligible to play."