Brandon Prust has been a surprisingly key player for Montreal this season, but now the Habs will have to find out what they can do without him for a short time.
The team announced Prust has a first-degree shoulder separation and will miss 10-14 days to recover from it. He suffered the injury last night in Montreal’s comeback victory over Tampa Bay. Rugged forward Ryan White will reenter the lineup to take his place.
Prust has been a boon for Montreal contributing toughness (81 penalty minutes) and penalty killing while also adding some offense with four goals and five assists. His work on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher has helped both of those rookies get off to flying starts.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Stamkos' surgeon, Karl Illig, told the Times, his risks are "very, very low," decision up to Stamkos. "I think he's doing the right thing."
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
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