Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has started experimenting with an injectable form of blood-thinning medication that could accelerate his return to the ice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he told Sportsnet on Sunday.
Stamkos, who hasn't played since having surgery April 4 to remove a blood clot near his right collarbone, is not expected to 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).
The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 1-0.
"There's different ways around it when it comes to that," said Stamkos, who practiced for 45 minutes wearing a regular jersey before spending an extra hour on the ice Sunday. "There's different options that we've explored. There's injectable blood-thinning medication that I'm on right now.
"There have been guys that have played in this League who are on it."
Stamkos referenced retired NHL defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who was diagnosed with blood clots in each of his lungs on Aug. 5, 2014. Timonen returned on March 2, 2015, played 16 games for the Chicago Blackhawks and helped them win the Stanley Cup.
Timonen developed a routine with the injectable medication, something Stamkos is hoping to replicate.
"There's an article I was reading the other day about Timonen and [Blackhawks forward Tomas] Fleischmann - last year Timo [did it] before he got traded," Stamkos said. "He was on the same regimen where he would inject after a game and then hold off, play, and then do that. There's different stages. We're obviously working through all of that stuff, looking at different options.
"I think for me too even just being able to read articles like that and know guys have done that puts your mind at ease a little bit."
Stamkos led Tampa Bay with 36 goals during the regular season and his 64 points were second most on the team. He hasn't played since March 31 against the Montreal Canadiens.
"You're getting to a point where we're kind of in that holding pattern," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Sunday. "He's feeling good because he's been on the ice so much more and he's getting himself back into game shape and into these situations. I think there is a little bit to him that he feels fine, and it's not like he's coming back from a broken bone, a [Anton] Stralman situation where it's a pain tolerance thing. I think that's probably what's a little frustrating for him, because he's got to wait for other people to tell him he can play. He's not the one making the decision, and I think that's what's really tough."