Lightning's Stamkos continues drills with light contact

TSN.ca Staff
1/31/2014 3:38:44 PM
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Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos continued towards his potential return on Friday, taking part in practice drills with light contact.

While the 23-year-old's progress had some teammates saying he was looking pretty good, Stamkos offered a more tempered approach to his return.

"I don't feel where I need to be in order to play a game yet, but it's getting there," he told reporters after practice at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

"It's nice to hear that the guys are saying that. Today I was in the corners a little more and getting bumped around (but) by no means was it full contact."

Stamkos fractured the tibia in his right leg in a Nov. 11 game against the Boston Bruins and underwent surgery the following day. He returned to practice earlier than expected, leading each day's progress to be closely monitored by Lightning fans as well as Canadians.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman named Stamkos to Canada's 25-man roster for the coming Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, but with Canada's first game just two weeks away, the clock is ticking on his hopes to be healthy in time.

"You just have to listen to your body," Stamkos said. "We're talking a lot about the Olympics and my goal is to try to be ready for those Games, but your body doesn't lie. If you're doing certain movements and you feel pain then that's an indicator that maybe it's not quite ready.

"It is tough mentally as well, going in there knowing that you're a little hesitant in certain areas. I've said that before that that's what you don't want so you just try to overcome that as you progress and you take more contact in practice and hopefully that goes away."

Stamkos scored 14 goals and 23 points in 17 for the Lightning this season prior to his injury. However, opportunities to get into game action before the Olympics are dwindling for the sniper. The Lightning have four games remaining before the NHL goes on break for the Games with the team's final game coming Feb. 8 against the Detroit Red Wings.

While the Brampton, Ontario native wouldn't commit to a timeline, he acknowledged his progress thus far and expressed hope for it to continue over the next two weeks.

"It has gotten better," he said. "There's less and less pain every time I get on the ice but there is still a little discomfort.

"I'm hoping in the next week and a half, two weeks, that that feels a lot better and I can do certain movements without having that pain or at least with some pain that's manageable. Right now it's still a little sharp in certain areas so that's what I'm trying to improve."

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