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Lightning's Stralman: Injury could have been worse

Tampa Bay defenseman hopes to return during playoffs

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman will not be available for the early rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a non-displaced fracture of the left fibula. But he knows it could have been a lot worse.

"I could have been out for the rest of the year," Stralman said at Amalie Arena on Saturday. "At least I have a chance to return, and that's the way I'm trying to look at it. I'll work as much as I can, do all the right things, and just hope the guys will take care of the business on the ice to give me a chance to get back."

The injury occurred on March 25 against the New York Islanders when Stralman and Islanders forward Anders Lee were battling for position in front of the Lightning net. Stralman appeared to catch the toe of his skate while defending Lee before falling to his hands and knees.

Video: NYI@TBL: Stralman shaken up on play in front of net

Stralman said the battle with Lee was normal and he didn't have a problem with it.

"It's always hard when something happens like that," Stralman said. "I was in quite a bit of pain. If I just land my on [behind], it would have been a nothing play. I'm obviously not happy about it, especially when the fun is about to start."

Stralman has been one of the most durable players in the NHL, missing one game in the past four seasons prior to the injury. He was second on the Lightning in ice time per game behind defenseman Victor Hedman and had nine goals and 34 points in 73 games.

There is no timetable on when he can return. Stralman said he's working out in the gym, doing mostly upper-body work, while he's on crutches and waiting for the bone to heal in a couple of weeks.

"It's a fracture and the bone has to heal before I can do anything," Stralman said. "I hope I have good healing powers; if not, I'll blame my dad."

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