CALGARY, Alberta — Every time Steven Stamkos makes an appearance on the ice these days, the talented Lightning forward appears that much closer to stepping back into the lineup.
When he joined the team at the conclusion of practice on Thursday, Stamkos wore full gear for the first time and a red no-contact jersey instead of his usual warmup suit. Stamkos took part in some post-practice shooting drills.
With Tampa Bay on a four-game road trip through Western Canada, it only fuels the notion Stamkos could be back in the Lightning lineup ahead of schedule and represent Canada at the Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s like a different level for him every week,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “He just seems to wow everybody with every step. He’s a pretty remarkable human being ... but I would temper everybody’s expectations.
“That kid is a go-getter. And whether it was on crutches, you would see him put that equipment on. But ... it’s good for his mental makeup just to keep pushing the envelope to get him back.’’
Tuesday, the day Team Canada’s roster is announced, will mark eight weeks since Stamkos had surgery to insert a titanium rod in his right tibia, which broke on Nov. 11 when he slid hard into the goal post in Boston.
He’s had x-rays biweekly, with the next one to be taken when the team returns home on Wednesday. That should “give us a better indication of where he is at in the healing stage,’’ Cooper said.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was named Friday as one of five inductees for the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame 2014 class.
Yzerman first played for Canada in an IIHF event in 1983. He was on the gold-medal team at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and was executive director for 2010 Olympic gold-medal team in Vancouver. Yzerman also is executive director for Team Canada for the 2014 Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.
Yzerman’s former Detroit teammate, D Nicklas Lidstrom, will also be a part of the IIHF Hall of Fame inductions, which will be held in May in Belarus.
Salo still out
D Sami Salo, who has been out with an upper-body injury suffered Dec. 23 at Florida, expects to miss his fourth consecutive game on Friday, though a return Sunday in Edmonton seems likely.
“He’ll play at some point in Alberta, I’m just not sure which city,’’ Cooper said.
Though Cooper indicated Salo might take warmups, Salo took line rushes with J-P Cote and was the last skater off the ice during the morning skate, generally an indication of a player who will be scratched.
“It’s day-to-day, I have a few more things I’ll work on (Friday) night and then we’ll see about the next game,’’ Salo said.
Nuts and Bolts
Former Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo will start for Calgary. Ramo played the past years in Russia. ...Ben Bishop starts in net for Tampa Bay. ...C Tom Pyatt and LW B.J. Crombeen are scheduled to be scratched for the second consecutive game.