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Stralman, Brown not ready for start of second round

Lightning try to rest up, heal in between playoff series

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman and forward J.T. Brown didn't practice Sunday, and coach Jon Cooper said he doesn't expect either to play early in the Eastern Conference Second Round series.

Stralman has been out since sustaining a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula in a 7-4 win against the New York Islanders on March 25. Brown sustained an upper-body injury in a 5-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round on April 15.

When asked if Stralman would be ready for Game 1, Cooper said "No. No. But we're hopeful he'll make an appearance in this series."

Cooper said "Not early" when asked about Brown's status.

Forwards Ryan Callahan (maintenance) and Mike Blunden (personal) also missed practice Sunday. Captain Steven Stamkos remains unavailable after surgery April 4 to remove a blood clot from his right collarbone.

"It was important for this team to get healthy and get rested," goalie Ben Bishop said. "Breaks like these don't happen during the season so it was good to get a workout in and stay sharp."

Tampa Bay defeated the Red Wings 4-1 in their best-of-7 first-round series, which ended Thursday. They will play the winner of the Islanders-Florida Panthers series; the Islanders lead the series 3-2, and have a chance to advance with a win in Game 6 on Sunday.

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Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin said he's watched the series and is eager to start the second round.

"On one hand you hope the series goes as long as it can," Drouin said. "But right now we're playing well and having fun out there so you want to keep that going."

Cooper said "more than one" player was dealing with a virus last week, and forward Tyler Johnson in particular was feeling the effects of it in Game 5 against Detroit. Johnson played 14:20 after averaging more than 18 minutes of ice time in the first four games.

"Anytime you can heal your body and rest your mind it's a good thing," Cooper said. "I don't know how much there really is to manage other than the fact you don't have to think about the game that much now. If they want to watch playoff hockey right now they can without being stressed out."

Tampa Bay went 1-2-0 in three games against the Islanders during the regular season. The Lightning were 1-3-1 in five games against the Atlantic Division-winning Panthers.

"Both teams are really good and it's going to be a tough opponent either way," Bishop said. "At this point it doesn't matter because you have to play well against whoever it is and if you don't, you're probably not going to win."

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