The Lightning have slipped in the standings since losing Steven Stamkos three weeks ago, but they may not be without their star scorer as long as originally expected.
Stamkos was already walking on his own two weeks after breaking his tibia in Boston, and TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday that the center is targeting Tampa Bay’s Feb. 6 matchup with Toronto as his expected return date.
That would also allow Stamkos, who remains the Lightning’s leading goal scorer despite missing the team’s last 10 games, to suit up for Canada in the Sochi Olympics, which kick off a week later.
Stamkos’ recovery is progressing much quicker than anticipated, and his presence would certainly benefit a Canadian squad seeking a second consecutive gold medal, but the uncertainty surrounding his health puts the Team Canada brain trust in a bit of a bind. The deadline to finalize Olympic rosters is Jan. 7, allowing Canada head coach Mike Babcock and his staff another month to gauge whether Stamkos will ready for the Games.
Canada’s first game is scheduled for Feb. 13 against Norway.
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