TAMPA-- Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos continues to increase his level of work with each practice but remains in a red no-contact jersey. The Lightning captain said his conditioning is rapidly improving after having surgery to remove a blood clot from above his right collarbone.
"[Conditioning] is not there yet, but it's getting there," said Stamkos, who has missed all six Stanley Cup Playoff games and the last five of the regular season. "When you are off for three weeks and doing absolutely nothing, you feel it. But definitely a lot better than the first time when I got on the ice, so it's getting there."
Stamkos said he takes blood thinners once every 12 hours and said that as soon as he gets off the medication he would be ready to return after the final dosage clears his system.
"As far as I know now and have heard and I've talked with [goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who had a blood clot earlier in the season], that when the blood thinners that I'm on right now -- and things can change -- it's a 12-hour dose, so I take two of those," Stamkos said. "But once that clears your system in the 12 hours, then your blood is back to normal. So if you were to stop, from my knowledge, you wait 12 hours and then you would be cleared to play. Obviously everyone is a different situation and we haven't really talked that much about it in advance, but as far as I know, as soon as you are off them it's a 12-24 hour period that you can get back."
Video: Stamkos Returns to Practice
Stamkos is on an injured list that continues to grow for the Lightning. Forward Mike Blunden didn't play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series, a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders, and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at Amalie Arena on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).
Stamkos said it's tougher to wait on the sidelines when the Lightning are coming off a loss.
"When things are going well and the team is winning, it eases it a little bit," he said. "But you watch the last game and you just catch yourself thinking what if I was out there or what if [defenseman Anton Stralman] was out there, what if [forward J.T. Brown] was out there or Blunden, it's just the games of 'what ifs' when you are out. That is the [bad] part about it. It's just a matter of giving myself a chance if the time comes."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said forward Erik Condra, who left Game 1 in the first period after a hit by Islanders center Casey Cizikas, is doing much better but Cooper is unsure if he'll be available for Game 2. Condra took a tumble into the boards after Cizikas' hit, which Cooper described as a "hockey play" but admitted it looked bad.
"[Condra] is doing a lot better than the hit actually looked," Cooper said. "He's a tough one."
Cooper said he doesn't expect the Lightning to be short forwards for Game 2 but said some of the players from Syracuse of the American Hockey League may practice Friday.