After the Bolts lost 4-1 to the Dallas Stars in the first post-season stretch opener on Sunday, head coach Jon Cooper said captain Steven Stamkos was “getting closer” of a return.
Monday morning, the captain was out again with his team for a morning skating.
More from Stamkos pic.twitter.com/40ByBAJZxS
– Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) 21 septembre 2020
“You don’t have as much of a chance to be where we are and he wants to be a part of it, which he did,” Cooper said on Sunday. “He has collectively helped the group mentally, but he also wants to be part of it on the ice. We don’t know when that will be the case. We hope he returns at some point in this series, but there’s no way to score that. When not on the ice, he has been an influential leader off the ice.
“I guess there is always a chance [he plays in Game 2], but at the moment I don’t think so. You will need to log in and find out. ”
Stamkos is yet to play in the 2020 postseason, suffering from an injury before the club reunited again after the season break to begin training. The center’s last appearance game returned at the end of February – his exit from that February 25 game ending a 15-game, 22-point streak.
Cooper noted on Sunday that the club would prefer Stamkos to know before making a potential comeback.
” And [he does return], you have to make sure the player is conditioned enough, ”said Cooper. “You need guys to be able to contribute. He wouldn’t want to either. No one wants to go into a game and sit on the bench all the time. You have to be prepared to play for minutes and contribute. But we have a full medical staff and Steven will be the first to tell you if he can go or not. If that moment comes, he will be put to play, not just sitting on the bench.
While Stamkos has skated with the team in optional practices and morning skates lately, his work with Monday’s other stripes suggested Game 2 may still be too early for a comeback.
Watch Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN NOW.