ORLANDO — Lightning C Valtteri Filppula missed out on playing for Finland in the Olympics after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his right ankle on Feb. 6.
He hopes he doesn’t miss any time with Tampa Bay.
Filppula was expected to need three weeks to recover from the injury, which would put him in line to return when Tampa Bay returns to action on Thursday in Nashville. While that remains the goal, it’s not a certainty at this point.
Since the team returned to the ice earlier in the week, Filppula has not practiced, instead doing off-ice workouts to keep his conditioning level up. But following practice on Friday at RDV Ice Den, Tampa Bay’s second leading scorer laced up his skates and went on the ice to test his ankle.
Filppula skated for about 15 minutes, moving swiftly up and down the ice.
“It felt pretty good, not great, but (Thursday) it was rougher, I couldn’t even go out there,’’ Filppula said. “So, today it was nice to get skating a little bit. I’m pretty hopeful that when the games get started again that I’ll be able to play, but we’ll see.’’
In addition to some pain, Filppula said there remained some weakness in the ankle, as well. He will sit out Saturday’s practice. The team is scheduled to be off on Sunday, but Filppula hopes to practice Monday.
“If it goes until Wednesday, that would make it tough to play on Thursday,’’ Filppula said.
C Tyler Johnson, who took a puck off his foot Feb. 4 in Minnesota and continues to walk with a noticeable limp, went on the ice wearing shorts and a t-shirt for a light skate. After playing the final two games before the Olympic break with the injury, Johnson doesn’t anticipate missing any time with the season resumes.
D Matt Carle, who played through a previously unannounced injury heading into the break, was in full gear on the ice before practice but left before formal practice started.
G Anders Lindback, who suffered an ankle sprain on Jan. 30, practiced for the third straight day and said he feels better than expected in the recovery process. Though he has not been cleared to return at this point, he has made it through the mini games the team is playing, which are not designed to take it easy on the goaltenders.
G Kristers Gudlevskis, who made a name for himself during the Olympics with Latvia, will join the team on Monday. But according to head coach Jon Cooper, Lindback expects to be ready to return next week.
Out of pocket
Cooper did not run practice on Friday and will be absent again on Saturday. He was honored by the Green Bay Gamblers and dropped the ceremonial first puck Friday before a Gamblers game in the United States Hockey League.
Cooper served as Green Bay head coach for two seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10, compiling a record of 84-27-9 and leading the Gamblers to a championship in 2010.
The next year he was hired by the Lightning to coach their affiliate in the American Hockey League.
“The place holds a special place in our heart,’’ Cooper said of Green Bay. “We had a great couple of years there, and it wasn’t just the on-ice performance, it was the organization, the friends, the city.’’