BROOKLYN – Veteran Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle, who missed Games 2 and 3 of his team’s second-round playoff series, will likely draw back into the lineup tonight for Game 4 against the New York Islanders.
Carle, who is out with an undisclosed injury – because all injuries are undisclosed in the playoffs – took part in the Lightning’s morning skate and was one of the first players off the ice after skating for about 30 minutes. That’s usually a telltale sign a player is ready to go, though Carle described himself as a game-time decision.
“You get more nervous watching than you do playing,” Carle said. “So it’s not fun to have to watch.”
Should Carle play, it would help stabilize a defense corps that looked shaky at times in Game 3, particularly in the third period. Carle would probably be back taking shifts with Victor Hedman, as he has been since Anton Stralman broke his fibula in late March. That would leave likely defense tandems of Jason Garrison with Andrej Sustr and Braydon Coburn with Slater Koekkoek with Nikita Nesterov as the odd man out.
Steven Stamkos, who is still wearing a red non-contact sweater, also took part in the morning skate, but did not speak afterward. It is not known whether Stamkos has been taken off the blood thinners that he was prescribed after his April 4 surgery to remove a blood clot from near his right collarbone. The best-case scenario for Stamkos was to be out of the lineup for one month, a threshold that was passed earlier this week.
Stralman has yet to take part in contact drills, but looks to be skating without much impairment. Erik Condra, who was drilled by a clean hit by Casey Cizikas in Game 1, stayed out with the injured players and black aces, meaning he likely won’t play.
On the Islanders side, coach Jack Capuano said Thomas Greiss, who posted his worst save percentage of the playoffs in Game 4, would be back in the crease. He said there were no more updates, which means defenseman Ryan Pulock will likely be a game-time decision.