The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the midst of a major battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their playoff chances could be getting a huge boost as NHL.com is reporting that captain Steven Stamkos could be back as early as this weekend. The Lightning have officially listed Stamkos as day-to-day, but he took part in full practice on Thursday. Stamkos practiced on a line with Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne, as well as practicing on the powerplay.
Steven Stamkos Could Be Back This Weekend
Stamkos has been out most of the season with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. He has been out since undergoing surgery to repair the damage on November 17, 2016.
“It’s progressing really well,” Stamkos said. “Everything has gone according to plan. You just want to keep progressing every day and feeling comfortable and confident on the ice. Today was probably the best day yet.”
In 17 games played for the Bolts this season, Stamkos has scored nine goals and has added 11 assists, putting him at 20 points. When he was injured, he was tied for second in NHL scoring with with Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin.
Stamkos signed a massive eight-year, $68 million contract this past off-season. He re-signed with Tampa shortly before the opening of free agency last June.
The Lightning take on the Detroit Red Wings tonight, and while it is unlikely that Stamkos will play; he could be back for Saturday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens or Sunday’s contest against the Dallas Stars.
“I think you know me well enough to know that I want to be out there at all times and be a difference-maker,” the Lightning captain said. “It’s hard this time of year not to be involved, but the guys have played great as of late. Just being around a lot more in the past couple of weeks and competing in practice gives me the itch, for sure. I want to get back as soon as possible. But nothing changes in regards to me needing to feel the way I want in order to play my game out there.”
The Lightning are three points back of the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East, thought they hold a game in hand.
TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 10: Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) waits for the puck to drop during an NHL hockey game between New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning on November 11, 2016, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)