The Islanders’ traveling party to Tampa included every player except Anders Lee (broken leg) and Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), so recently injured regulars Josh Bailey (upper body) and Ryan Pulock (upper body) could be available at some point this week. Even Jaroslav Halak (groin), out since March 8, joined the team when they headed to Tampa on Tuesday.
Jack Capuano offered no update on any of those injured players, though Pulock and Halak skated Tuesday before practice and Bailey was able to have an off-ice workout.
“He must be feeling better since he skated today, but I don’t know where he is yet (in his recovery),” Capuano said of Halak.
The Islanders sent Christopher Gibson to Bridgeport, so Halak is now one of three goaltenders with the team.
Quick turnaround for Game 1 not ideal
Capuano and John Tavares, who rested during Tuesday’s practice, didn’t sound thrilled about the NHL springing Wednesday’s Game 1 on the teams. The Lightning have been off since dispatching the Red Wings on April 21, while the Isles played consecutive double-overtime games and now open the next round before the first round is finished, with Ducks-Predators Game 7 following the Isles game Wednesday night.
“You can look at it both those ways — they had a lot of time to rest, work on some things and we’re coming off an emotional couple games, looking to carry over that intensity,” Tavares said. “It could really go either way. We just want to focus on ourselves and what we’ve got to do.”
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who has been out since April 4 for surgery to repair a blood clot problem, skated with his teammates for the first time Tuesday but there is slim hope he could return this series. Stamkos is still taking blood-thinning medication and he can’t be cleared to play until he stops those meds and they clear his system.
“That’s the tough part, feeling physically ready to play but not being able to,” Stamkos told reporters after his skate.
Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, out since March 25 with a broken leg, has been skating regularly and is expected to return during the series.