Forward Simon Gagne has been skating and could be back in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup for the opening game of the NHL Eastern Conference final against Boston.
General manager Steve Yzerman said on a conference call Wednesday that Gagne is “feeling good. We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for Game One.”
Reports in Tampa said Gagne has been cleared to play.
Yzerman was less optimistic for defenceman Pavel Kubina, who has not resumed skating and remains listed as day-to-day.
Both players suffered undisclosed injuries after taking hard hits in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern conference semifinals against Washington.
The Bolts’ rookie GM, speaking to reporters on a conference call, also said he can’t fully explain the rash of dramatic comebacks in the NHL playoffs, which started when Philadelphia erased a 3-0 Boston lead to win a series last year to become only the third team ever to accomplish that feat. But he said it may be that once one team does it, others get a boost.
The Chicago Blackhawks narrowly missed doing the same to the Vancouver Canucks in this year’s first round, losing in Game 7 after coming back from an 0-3 deficit. Now Yzerman’s old team the Detroit Red Wings have a shot at it when they face San Jose in Game 7 on Thursday night.
“The more comebacks we have, the more teams believe it’s possible,” Yzerman said. “In Detroit-San Jose, every game is close, every game is a one-goal game.
“We lost Game 4 to Pittsburgh in overtime (in the first round), but it came down to one shot. For teams that fall behind, as long as they don’t get discouraged and they make the adjustments they see fit, there’s hope.”