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Lightning Round: 13 Bolts games will be aired nationally on ESPN/TNT networks

And the Prospect Showcase games start today

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Florence Labelle/NHLI via Getty Images

After signing a seven-year deal with the NHL, ESPN will broadcast their first NHL games since 2004 next month. The back-to-back Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning will open the 2021-22 regular season with a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 12 at 7:30 PM EST on ESPN. In total 13 Lightning games will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN+, TNT, ABC or Hulu. The full schedule is below [NHL.com]

Tuesday, October 12 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - ESPN

Tuesday, November 30 at St. Louis Blues - ESPN+/Hulu

Tuesday, December 28 vs. Montreal Canadiens - ESPN+/Hulu

Wednesday, February 23 vs. Edmonton Oilers - TNT

Saturday, February 26 at Nashville Predators (Stadium Series) - TNT

Wednesday, March 16 at Seattle Kraken - TNT

Saturday, March 19 at New York Rangers - ABC/ESPN+

Sunday, March 27 at New York Islanders - TNT

Tuesday, March 29 vs. Carolina Hurricanes - ESPN+/Hulu

Wednesday, April 6 at Washington Capitals - TNT

Tuesday, April 12 at Dallas Stars - ESPN

Thursday, April 21 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs - ESPN

Thursday, April 28 at New York Rangers - ESPN+/Hulu

The season opener, as well as two other games will be televised by ESPN. TNT will carry five other games, including the Stadium Series game against the Nashville Predators at Nissan Stadium right after the Winter Olympic Games break in February and the first Lightning’s visit to the Climate Pledge Arena, home of the Seattle Kraken.

Lightning Links

After a two-month pause, the hockey is returning to Amalie Arena with the opening game of the Prospect Showcase tournament against the Nashville Predators. The puck drop is scheduled for 2:00 PM EST.

Cole Koepke was missing from yesterday’s session at the prospect camp due to a spill into the wall on Thursday and his participation in today’s game is still questionable.

Some of the veteran Lightning players, including newcomers Corey Perry and Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, have already started skating together in Brandon, Florida.

Olympic medalist Julie Chu has been invited to join Benoit Groulx’s staff at the Lightning’s prospect camp. The Athletic’s Joe Smith on what it means for hockey [The Athletic, paid content]

That could be changing in the evolving NHL, where women are being elevated to many different roles, from scouting to management. It’s not just the likes of Barb Underhill, the noted skating coach for teams like the Lightning. Former Team USA captain Meghan Duggan was named the Devils’ manager of player development in the spring. Meanwhile, Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser was named Toronto’s senior director of player development.

The fifth-round pick in the latest NHL Entry Draft, Cameron MacDonald, has made one of the biggest impressions during prospect camp [Tampa Bay Sports]

Groulx and his staff have noted MacDonald’s “great” shot and play on the penalty kill. They’ll get a closer look as the Lightning team plays games against prospects from the Predators, Hurricanes and Panthers starting Saturday.

“He’s one guy that I’m going to have to watch him and be able to give a fair assessment after this tournament,” Groulx said. “But right now, I just thought I saw him here and there making good plays. But so far so good, he’s got some good stuff.”

Steven Stamkos with a honest answer on a question about his day with the Cup