PITTSBURGH -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said he will not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), and said he has not changed his blood-thinning medication.
Stamkos cleared the air after participating in an optional morning skate Monday regarding medication he has been taking since surgery April 4 to remove a blood clot near his right collarbone. Sportsnet reported Sunday that Stamkos recently began experimenting with an injectable form of blood-thinning medication that could speed his recovery.
"I think there was a little confusion in some of the articles that came out [Sunday], with regards to me switching medications," said Stamkos, who hasn't played since March 31. "I've been on the same medication from Day One. I don't know if that was misinterpreted, or maybe I said the wrong thing, but I'm on the same medication I've been on since Day One. It's an injectable blood thinner.
"There's different regimens, and by that I mean different ways that you can go around that in order to still play. If there's any confusion there, that can be cleared up. I haven't changed any medication. I've been on that injectable since my surgery. You get into the complexity of it, it lasts in your body for a certain amount of hours. There's certainly cases where guys in the NHL have played on the same medication that I've been on with altering your routine. That's something that we're experimenting."
Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 1-0. The Lightning have won five games in a row and have reached the conference final despite the absence of Stamkos, who led the team with 36 goals during the regular season.
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"There's still a chance that I can play in this series. There's still a chance I may not be able to play for the rest of the playoffs," Stamkos said. "That's honestly the truth. It's tough for me to feel so physically close, but like I said before, whether it's Game 3 or 4 or 5, or whether it's coming to the reality that it's not in the best interests of my long-term health to play in the playoffs, those are questions that we're closer and closer to getting answered every day. Like I said, we're doing our due diligence with regards to making sure we're seeing the right medical personnel and getting all the opinions that we can and going forward from there.
"I'm just as frustrated as you guys, having to sit here and answer the same questions while you guys ask the same questions. But I'm asking those questions too every day and I get the same answers back. That's the tough part right now. I'm just trying to give myself a chance that if that day comes where we speak with the docs and we feel as a group, my family, that it's safe to get back on the ice, then I certainly will."
Stamkos has been traveling with the Lightning since the second round and has participated in several practices and morning skates, but won't return to the lineup until he no longer needs the blood-thinning medication. He admitted how frustrating it has been to watch while his teammates go on another long playoff run; the Lightning advanced to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
But neither Stamkos nor the Lightning are willing to risk his long-term health, even for a chance at the Cup.
"It's always tough, especially at this time of the year," Stamkos said. "You want to play and you want to win. You want to be a part of this. It [stinks] not being able to go out there and help your team, but they've done a [heck] of a job so far without some of the guys that have been out of the lineup. You continue to try and get better every day and give yourself a chance that if that day comes that you're ready to play."