The Tampa Bay Lightning are enjoying their first day off in training camp today. After a week of practices in Brandon, they begin a stretch of four exhibition games in five day days as they look to find the right line-up to defend their back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Expect a lot of line tinkering to go on in these pre-season games as the coaching staff looks to fill the holes left by key departures on the bottom line.
The good news is that the Bolts are relatively healthy heading into the competitive part of camp with only Cal Foote currently listed as injured. His absence will most likely two returning players a little more ice time. Zach Bogosian and Andrej Sustr will likely be getting a lot of ice time with Mikhail Sergachev on the third pairing since the top two defensive combinations are pretty much locked in.
Most of the competition in camp will be for the bottom six roles as multiple forwards will be looking to fill the spots left by the departures of the entire third line from the last two seasons. A mix of rookies and newly-signed veterans will be battling it out over the next week before the team starts making its roster cuts.
Lightning / NHL News
Curtis McElhinney quietly retired from the NHL over the weekend. The low-key back-up netminder for the Lightning during their back-to-back Cup runs didn’t even release a statement. He simply changed his Instagram profile to “Retired Pro Athlete”. The former sixth-round pick of the Calgary Flames posted a 94-95-20 record while playing thirteen seasons for eight different teams. Not a bad career at all. [Instagram]
In what will be a never ending quest to find the right combination for the third line, the coaching staff assembled a line with Steven Stamkos, Ross Colton, and Corey Perry. That allowed them to bump Mathieu Joseph up to the second line with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli. Between Stamkos and Perry that’s 825 NHL goals worth of offense in their career. Not bad. [Twitter]
The veterans on the team are doing their best to make some of the young talent feel welcome on the squad. That is something that doesn’t always happen, especially when the young players may be going for the veteran’s ice time. [Tampa Bay Times]
It’s not going to be easy for some fans, but we’re going to have to accept the fact that Corey Perry is with the Lightning and will be playing quite a bit. Pat Maroon, another player some fans were leery about when he joined the team, was a driving force behind Perry signing with the Lightning. [NHL.com]
Joe Smith from The Athletic provides ten observations from the first week of training camp. An improved Andrej Sustr could make the team and Pat Maroon is looking slim after some changes to his diet and workouts in the offseason. [The Athletic - subscription required]
Seattle is victorious in their debut. The Kraken won their first game, defeating Vancouver, 5-3, in an exhibition game in Spokane. The newest NHL franchise is playing their first three “home” exhibition games in neutral locations as the finishing touches are put on Climate Pledge Arena. They used three power play goals to pick up the win against a Canucks team that is still without RFA’s Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. [Seattle Times]