Feb 24 2014, 10:32pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
More specifically, he is eyeing the March 6 game against the Buffalo Sabres, per NHL.com:
"Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos told reporters Monday that he is targeting a March 6 game against the Buffalo Sabres for his return to the lineup.
"Stamkos said an X-ray taken of his surgically repaired right tibia Monday 'looks really good,' but 'we're playing it smart.' He said his next medical evaluation is scheduled for March 5.
"Stamkos broke his leg when he fell into a goal post Nov. 11 during a game against the Boston Bruins and he had surgery the next day. He had been hoping to recover in time to play for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics but had to withdraw when a CAT scan performed Feb. 5 showed his leg had not fully healed.
"While Stamkos certainly was disappointed to not have the chance to go to Russia, he said not having the specter of having to be ready by a certain date has made his recovery a bit more relaxing."
According to the same update, he expressed confidence his situation will progress sooner than expected.
"It did feel good (Feb. 5), but it feels even better now. Maybe I wasn't as far along as I thought, knowing how much better it has felt now that I have kept working on it and taking a couple of days off. It's just going to continually get better and that's positive knowing it's doing that.
"I think now it was kind of a relief for that whole thing (the Olympic experience) to be over and done with. Just to get all that stuff out of the way and to focus on one thing and that's getting back and playing for Tampa."
Missy Ziellnski of the Lightning's official website also confirms Stamkos' targeted return on March 6. She also adds the Tampa Bay alternate captain "felt very comfortable in cutting, turning and stopping situations" during the Lightning's mini-camp in Orlando last weekend.
On the other hand, Damian Cristodero of The Tampa Bay Times estimates Stamkos' right tibia as "between 95 to 98 percent healed." He also stresses the Lighting forward will miss the upcoming four-game road trip against the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues.
However, he will accompany his teammates on the road swing while continuing his rehabilitation. Cristodero also notes Stamkos has been cleared to take full contact during practices. Both Ziellnski and Cristodero affirm Stamkos will have another medical evaluation on March 5, a date which coincides with the NHL trade deadline.
The 24-year-old sensation has missed 41 games in the 2013-14 NHL season. Prior to his unfortunate injury against the Bruins, he amassed 14 goals for 23 points in 17 games.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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