While the Capitals-Penguins series is being viewed by many as a conference final, Steven Stamkos may have something to say about that. The star forward of the Tampa Bay Lightning returned to practice on Tuesday just three weeks after successful vascular surgery to clear a blood clot in his right arm.
Stamkos took to the ice in a red non-contact jersey, but took part in full drills and line rushes.
The original timetable for Stamkos' return to the lineup was one to three months. Following practice, Stamkos told reporters that the timetable has not changed. Tampa head coach Jon Cooper also said he expects Stamkos to miss the entire second round.
Still, Stamkos' return to practice is a promising development. As one of the top scorers in the NHL, his return would be a major boost for the Lightning. If they can make the conference finals without their top player, they will prove to be a tough out for either the Caps or Penguins.
Tampa will host the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their second round series on Wednesday.
RELATED: Orpik returns to practice, Alzner does not
Nearly two weeks have passed since the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to raise their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
With one team being a first-year expansion project that turned out beautifully and the other a franchise that had not appeared in a Stanley Cup Final since 1998, there was obviously a lot on the line.
Those away from the ice had 'a lot' on the line, too.
Prior to the start of the series, each city's mayor agreed on a bet that would force the losing team's member to wear an opposing jersey at the conclusion of the Cup.
Well, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman followed through on her end of the bargain.
Here is proof of her wearing the jersey of a man who led what was arguably the greatest post-championship celebration in sports history.
The Capitals announced Wednesday that the team's home opener and Stanley Cup banner unveiling will be played on October 3 against the Boston Bruins.
The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless.
Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?
In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.
It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.
Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.
Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.
The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.
MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE: