Stamkos targeting Saturday return vs Wings

Steven Stamkos has set Saturday as his target date to play in the NHL, saying that he's feeling stronger than he's ever felt since breaking his leg in November.

Canada’s biggest Olympic question mark has taken another important step towards recovery.

Steven Stamkos told Tampa Bay reporters Monday that since breaking his right tibia, he’s never felt better on the ice than he did during the Lightning’s five-on-five battle drills.

The star forward is targeting Saturday’s home game versus the Detroit Red Wings to return to the lineup. A decision on whether he will compete for Canada’s national team is expected soon afterward. Saturday’s game will be the Lightning’s final contest before the NHL takes a two-week Olympic break.


The Markham, Ont., native has been out of the Lightning lineup since crashing into a goalpost and breaking his right tibia on Nov. 11 in Boston.

“The bone is really strong right now. The X-rays look really good,” Stamkos said last week in Toronto.

The 23-year-old forward will have another X-ray before Saturday’s game to evaluate the healing of his bone.

Canada’s first game of the Olympic tournament takes place on Feb. 13. Before that date, Stamkos will have a frank conversation with Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. Yzerman, who also has final say on Canada’s roster, has a plethora of healthy Canadian forwards ready to sub in, including Stamkos’s teammate Martin St. Louis.

“If I say I’m at the level I need to be to compete in the Olympics, he’s going to have the trust that I can play at that level,” Stamkos said last week of Yzerman. “I have to be honest with him.”

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