It was a less than triumphant return to the Amalie Arena ice for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Playing their first competitive game at their home barn since clinching the Stanley Cup last summer, the Bolts were severely outplayed by the Nashville Predators who peppered the back of the Lightning net six times on their way to an easy victory. The good news is that these games don’t count for anything other than evaluation.
Anthony Cirelli and Fredrik Claesson scored the goals for Tampa Bay while Brian Elliott and Amir Miftakhov split time in the net. Elliott, slated to be the backup to Andrei Vasilevskiy, gave up three goals on fourteen shots in his Lightning debut while Miftakhov, likely to start the season in Orlando, made fourteen saves on seventeen shots.
There were a few more familiar names in the Lightning line-up as veterans like Steven Stamkos (19:19 of ice time), Erik Cernak (19:39), and Cirelli (10:02) played significant minutes. Cirelli did leave the game midway through the second period and didn’t return, but Coach Cooper said keeping him out was more of a precaution than an indication of anything serious. In the meantime there was a heavy dose of players looking for a spot on the roster as Taylor Raddysh, Simon Ryfors, Boris Katchouk, and Alex Barré-Boulet all played more than fifteen minutes in the game.
While Coach Cooper probably didn’t care for the effort level in the game (there were quite a few turnovers and lost puck battles), it’s still a little too soon to get unduly upset about the result. Still, the coach wasn’t pleased that the players trying to make the team haven’t stepped it up in regards to their performance:
#tblightning Jon Cooper clearly hasn't seen enough from roster hopefuls in first few exhibition games: “People have got got to notice there are spots on our team to be had. At some point, somebody has got to jump up and grab it."— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) October 1, 2021
It is just preseason and the Bolts still have five more exhibition games on the schedule before they drop the puck for real on October 12th. If they are still playing like this at the end of next week maybe it’ll register on the concern meter, but until then it’s just players shaking rust off of their game.
Lightning / NHL News
It could be a big season for Mathieu Joseph as he should have an excellent chance of playing middle-six minutes for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He finishes his Top 25 Under 25 career (he’ll age out next season) at the number 5 spot on our 2021 list. [Raw Charge]
The Hockey News ranked the top 100 players to watch in the CHL this season. Lightning prospects Roman Schmidt (#42), Niko Huuhtanen (#57), and Jack Finley (#77) all made the list. [The Hockey News/ Sports Illustrated]
The Lightning are partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield to end the stigma surrounding mental health care. The initiative is named “Strike the Stigma” and will provide mental health services for 20 families over the next three years. [WFLA]
The Vancouver Canucks still have a couple of very important young players not in camp as Restricted Free Agents Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson wait for their new contracts. It looks like Hughes, a promising young blueliner, might be close to signing a 6 year, $7.75 AAV deal according to SportsNet’s Satiar Shah [Twitter]
Pierre LeBrun continues to roll out the details in regards to new contracts for coaches and general managers. Yesterday he reported that Toronto Maple Leafs head coach, and former Lightning forward, Sheldon Keefe agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him behind the bench through the 2023-24 season. [Pension Plan Puppets]
The Lightning head up to Carolina (again) for their third preseason game of the season. Puck drops at 7:00pm. Check us out on Twitter for details of the lines and goaltending match-ups for the game. It’s possible that Andrei Vasilevskiy makes his preseason debut!