As an annual rite of passage, the Tampa Bay Lightning will partake in most of their preseason games away from confines of the Tampa Bay area and the St. Pete Times Forum.
Announced this afternoon, the Bolts will open preseason play on September 20 against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis, and then play the Blues again somewhere - it's still to be determined - the next night (September 21) as well.
The Bolts have another back-to-back affair against the Florida Panthers on September 23-24 in a home-and-home series that sees the Bolts play their only preseason game at Times Palace.
Some people want and expect the Lightning to play more preseason games at home, catering to the local fanbase... But the truth is, this is practice. Not just practice, but it tends to be roster battles and other logistics of the team that does not warrant fans being charged full-price admission to the Forum. The Bolts going on the road for the preseason is better than playing every date at home.
The only thing that would be better for the team, would be if they would play more dates in Florida at 3rd party sites. Germain Arena in Estero and Amway Center in Orlando would bring in captive audiences and further expose the Lightning brand state-wide.
At any rate, the schedule (which could change between now and the start of training camp) is below the jump.
Tuesday, September 20 7:30 p.m. Scottrade Center (St. Louis,Missouri) St. Louis Blues
Wednesday, September 21 TBD TBD**
Friday, September 23 7:30 p.m. St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa,Florida) Florida Panthers
Saturday, September 24 7 p.m. BankAtlantic Center (Sunrise,Florida) Florida Panthers
Thursday, September 29 7:30 p.m. Bell Centre (Montreal,Quebec) Montreal Canadiens
Saturday, October 1 7 p.m. Colisee Pepsi (Quebec City,Quebec)** Montreal Canadiens
* All times Eastern and subject to change
** Lightning will serve as home team