Steven Stamkos return imminent

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who hasn’t played since undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee on Nov. 17, could return to the lineup as early as this Saturday.

Stamkos reportedly practices on a line with Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne, and he also practiced with the team’s second power-play unit.

“It’s progressing really well,” Stamkos said of his recovery from his injury “Everything has gone according to plan. You just want to keep progressing every day and feeling comfortable and confident on the ice. [Wednesday] was probably the best day yet.”

Lightning head coach Jon Copper now considers Stamkos to be “day-to-day,” although Stamkos said it’s unlikely he plays Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings “unless something drastically changes.”

“I don’t see him playing against Detroit,” Cooper said. “But after that I’d say it’s getting really close.”

The Lightning are three points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning have a game in hand on the Bruins, but Boston has five more wins in regulation or overtime.

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