Injured Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos said he's feeling better after taking a day off from practice on Monday because his leg didn't feel right.
Stamkos took to the ice at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday morning - where the Lightning prepared to face the Toronto Maple Leafs - wearing a regular blue jersey and skated for about 20 minutes.
"It felt a lot better today," Stamkos said after the skate. "Just pain in certain areas. The bone is really strong, the x-rays look good - it's more soft tissue issues."
Stamkos added that he still hopes to get games under his belt before the Olympic break and also discussed the possibility of playing in Sochi even if he doesn't play an NHL game first.
"The objective is to play a game (in the NHL), that would be something I would really love to do," he explained to the large scrum of reporters. "But if that's not the case, there's going to be another discussion about whether or not I'm still going to be on that team if I can't play a game. We've had brief discussions about that, it's more or less been 'We'll cross that bridge when (if) we need to.'"
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman just happens to be his NHL general manager in Tampa and Stamkos is prepared to have a discussion with him on all of his options.
"If we have to sit down a couple of days before we have to leave for the Olympics, we can be honest with each other," Stamkos said of his eventual chat with Yzerman. "If I say that I'm at the level I think I need to be at to compete at the Olympics, I think he's going to have the trust in me that I can go over there and play at that level. But at the end of the day, I have to be honest with him. If I say I'm not ready, obviously I'm not going to go."
When asked about Stamkos' comments that going to Sochi without playing an NHL game was a possibility, Yzerman confirmed it's among the different options, again very much depending on where he is physically.
"We're not going to rule anything out," Yzerman told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun over on the phone Tuesday. "We don't really have to jump to any conclusions yet. It's one step at a time. A week ago he had the X-Ray at the 10-week mark and the doctors advised him to increase the intensity of his workouts on and off the ice and see how he responds to that. So that's what he's done for the last week. He's still hopeful to play at some point next week but we don't know yet if that's realistic or not.
"Once he gets home from the trip he'll meet again with the doctors and see what they come up with at that point. But until he's cleared for a game, whether it's prior to leaving or not, there's not much really to say, but we're going to keep all the options open and make the appropriate decisions when the time comes."
Stamkos fractured the tibia in his right leg in a Nov. 11 game against the Boston Bruins and underwent surgery the following day. He had 14 goals and 23 points in 17 games before the injury.
The Lightning's final game before the Olympic break is Saturday, Feb. 8 against the Detroit Red Wings.