Lightning star Steven Stamkos said when he came out on the ice before practice today, his surgically-repaired right leg just didn't feel right, so he decided to "err on the side of caution" and not participate in practice.

Stamkos, who did an off-ice workout instead, insisted he doesn't believe it's a step back, that he's had a lot more good days than bad in his rehab, which is still way ahead of schedule.

"Whenver it doesn't feel good, it's a little frustrating," Stamkos said. "But I've not gone through something like this bfore, so when things dont' feel well, you want answers right away, and you want to know how to fix it. But it's not necessarily that easy. It's been tough, the days it doesn't feel good, especially after the strides that I've taken and how good I felt on the ice the other day. But you have to be smart with this. I thought today was a smart decision and we'll see how it feels tomorrow."

Coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos is still "way ahead of the curve" on his recovery and everything is status quo. Stamkos, who suffered the a broken right tibia Nov. 11, has practiced with the team often since Jan. 2, even moving up to wearing a yellow (light contact) jersey during Saturday's morning skate. His 10-week x-ray on Thursday was very encouraging.

"You can't sit here and say that's a setback," Cooper said. "A setback would be that he's not coming on the trip. But he is coming on the trip, and everything is going as planned."

Stamkos said his goal is still to play a game with the Lightning next week and play for Team Canada in the Olympics, noting he's been on an "aggressive' rehab plan. He knows his status will be magnified in this week's road trip to Canada, starting Tuesday in his hometown of Toronto.