Dallas Stars starting netminder Kari Lehtonen has a "mild concussion" (later corrected to "concussion with minor symptoms"), and Jussi Rynnas -- who appeared in Dallas' last preseason tilt against the Bolts -- has been waived. That means he'll start the year with Dallas' AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, and familiar face Anders Lindback will play the entire game against his old team tonight.
Read any series recaps from Tampa Bay's first round sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens a year ago and you'll find most journalists and bloggers attributing the loss to Lindback's poor performance following Ben Bishop's injury. While it's true his .881 save percentage was partly to blame for the four consecutive defeats, blaming him for everything is an unfortunate, shortsighted case of scapegoating. He was bad; the team was worse, particularly against Montreal, whose skaters had their way with the Bolts in all four games. The Habs dominated control of the puck and outshot, outchanced, and flat outworked the Bolts in four straight games, earning that sweep on the ice, not just because of who was in net.
It was unsurprising when Lindback wasn't qualified by the Lightning and let walk, in spite of some posturing from the team that he might be re-signed. The reality is, he really never was a fit for the Lightning and goalie coach Frantz Jean; now, he'll get an opportunity to prove he can still be an NHL-caliber goalie with another young team on the rise in Dallas. Stars goalie coach Mike Valley has followed Lindback since his Nashville days and seems like he'll work with Lindback to give him every chance to succeed.
No, the game will not be televised.
- Jonathan Drouin (thumb) has been skating in a red no-contact jersey, and is aiming for a return on October 9 -- the regular season opener versus the Florida Panthers. The team would likely have preferred to see him in some more preseason action to determine fit and chemistry but he's in no danger of being returned to the QMJHL.
- In Tampa Bay's 6-3 preseason win over Dallas a few days ago, Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan combined for three goals and an assist; both players are staying behind in Estero and won't appear in tonight's preseason matchup. Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman are also staying behind and will not play.
- Lightning lines:
- Dallas lines:
- This is the Stars final preseason game, so most of their NHL lineup is intact. That means a stiff test for some Bolts bubble players and a good test of the strength of starting goaltender Ben Bishop's wrist.
- Speaking of bubble players, while Lightning player development coach Steve Thomas has praised both Cedric Paquette and Vlad Namestnikov for their showings in preseason action so far, its Namestnikov who gets the nod again alongside Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Marchessault. Vladdy remains a guy to keep your eye on as a dark horse to make the Lightning out of camp, especially if plans are to use Brian Boyle as the third line pivot this year.
Lines for #tblightning in practice: Palat-Filppula-Killorn/Panik-Johnson-Connolly/Marchessault-Boyle-Brown/Kucherov-Vlad-Marchessault— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) September 30, 2014
Stars expected lines vs. Tampa Bay tonight: Benn-Seguin-Nichushkin, Cole-Spezza-Hemsky, Horcoff-Fiddler-Sceviour, Eaves-Morin-Ritchie.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) September 30, 2014