Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
When: 8 PM EDT | Tickets: Check Availability
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: None | Twitter: Live stream
Opponent Coverage: Defending Big D
Goalie Kristers Gudlevskis faced 18 shots in his 30 minutes of play during Friday night's 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers at the Amalie. 18 shots, 17 saves, 1 goal allowed in those first minutes of preseason action. His efforts in prospect tournament play could also be factored in with assessment but we'll focus on where pressure should be highest - the pro level (even if it's exhibition).
Ray Emery, a few days ago, only faced 10 shots during his half-hour of action in preseason (over-glorified practice) game 1 against the Predators. 10 shots and all stopped. You'll see him tapped for starting time tonight in Dallas, and Gudlevskis too, because they're the integral members of the biggest roster battle the Lightning have this preseason: the role of Ben Bishop's backup.
It's possible, but not rock-solid, that you'll see the tandem of Emery and Gudlevskis for the remainder of the preseason, though it's not a given as the team shouldn't want a rusty Ben Bishop to start the season. At the same time, trying to make an ultimate judgment on only two game-condition situations for both goalies (and one coming off action from the night before) seems a little cruel. The notion that the decision could come tonight or after tonight's game hinges on the fact the Syracuse Crunch are due in Lyon, France in the coming days. That roster trim-down is imminent, though the Crunch has two netminderss at the moment in Adam Wilcox and Allen York. The intention was to have Wilcox behind Gudlevskis.
The blood clot / surgery for Andrei Vasilevskiy threw the entire organizational depth chart off, and it may be thrown off further if Emery is signed to a one-year contract. What happens if that's the case and Vasilevskiy returns, a demotion to the AHL and total displacement for Wilcox and Gudlevskis on top of Allen York? Emery himself could be traded, but I don't think the Lightning want to bring Vasilevskiy back without having him in game shape yet.
So, tonight's game against the stars has a weight to it. Too bad it's not televised so more people (read: the fans) could lay assessments of our own.
To go along with Kristers Gudlevskis, a few players from last night's match against the Panthers will be dressed and participating tonight for the Lightning (you can view the intended rosters for the game here). Jonathan Drouin will be seeing his first action without Steven Stamkos as his linemate, Nikita Kucherov will once again be playing without the remainder of the TKO trio, Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin and Vladislav Namestnikov also will go it again. Much of the rest of the lineup are Crunch members in waiting, with a few exceptions such as Braydon Point, Andrej Sustr and Jonathan Marchessault.
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