Steven Stamkos and teammate Martin St. Louis were reunited off the ice Monday, one day after Canada won gold in Sochi after defeating Sweden. In just over a week, the two key cogs in the top line for the Tampa Bay Lightning could be back together on the ice.
Stamkos told reporters on Monday that's close to returning. So close that he's expecting to back in the Lightning lineup on March 6 at home against Buffalo. He said his broken right leg is 95-98 percent healed, with his next medical evaluation set for March 5.
Following his 14-week checkup today, which included an X-ray and consultation with team physician Dr. Ira Gutentag, Stamkos was not given medical clearance to play during the Lightning's upcoming four-game road trip that begins on Thursday in Nashville.
"I feel like I'm ready to play, it's just a matter of getting this thing perfect really before I come back," Stamkos said. "I kind of knew based on what (Dr. Gutentag) had said last time we did the CT scan, which was a pretty clear picture that it wasn't ready, that he kind of said from this point probably three or four weeks is what you are going to need, so we are at three weeks."
After having to withdraw from Team Canada days and later being replaced by St. Louis, Stamkos has been able to take his time in recovery now that there's no massive target date like the Olympics hanging over his head.
As the NHL comes out of the Olympic break, the Lightning are sitting pretty in second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. There will be 20 games left in their season the day of the game against the Sabres, 24 hours after the trade deadline has passed. Stamkos' return would be the best acquisition of the deadline.
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