Both the Islanders and Lightning are getting used to their new surroundings in the Edmonton bubble.
The teams open the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night at Rogers Place after six weeks in the Toronto bubble. The Lightning departed Toronto on Saturday and the Islanders traveled on Sunday.
“Yeah, I think so,” captain Anders Lee said on Sunday when asked if it would be a nice change. “It felt like that a little bit when we changed hotels for the second round. Edmonton was a huge goal of ours to get to do what we want to do. It will freshen things up a little bit.”
“It’s obviously a change,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “The bubble in Toronto was very good, a lot of activities. We’ve only been here for not even 24 hours so I haven’t seen too much. But it’s kind of nice to get to a new place.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper ruled captain Steven Stamkos out for the series. Stamkos underwent core muscle surgery and has not played since Feb. 25.
“He’s not available,” Cooper said. “He didn’t skate today. He’s not going to play in the series.”
However, Cooper indicated top-line right wing Nikita Kucherov, who exited Game 5 against the Bruins this past Monday with an undisclosed injury, should be available for Game 1 against the Islanders.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press that Canadian family members of the four remaining teams can enter the Edmonton bubble by following health guidelines. However, the NHL is awaiting word from government officials on the eligibility of non-Canadian family members to do so.
“Our support system has been there for us throughout,” said Lee, who is from Minnesota. “We’re trying to make the most of this and do something special for them at home. It’s been a special ride for everyone involved.”