Didn’t it seem like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating a Stanley Cup win? Well, believe it or not, the first competitive action of the 2021-22 season is officially under way as the Tampa Bay Lightning head up to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes for their first exhibition game of the preseason.
Based on the travel squad, the coaching staff wants to see how the young kids look in NHL action:
Traveling group for tomorrow's #GoBolts preseason opener in Carolina are:— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) September 27, 2021
F - Joseph, Barre-Boulet, Katchouk, Ryfors, Raddysh, Elie, MacDonald, Hudon, Finley, Colton, Walcott, McDonnell
D - Claesson, Sustr, D. Raddysh, Rutta, Schmidt, Sergachev, Thompson
G - Legace, Miftakhov
Of those 21 players only 4 (Mathieu Joseph, Ross Colton, Jan Rutta, and Mikhail Sergachev) have spots locked up on the Lightning roster. Several of the players like Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, and Simon Ryfors will be fighting for a spot on the bottom lines so a strong showing will be important for them.
According to Erik Erlendsson, the game will likely be streamed on the team’s website (the Lightning also confirmed in an email that all preseason games will be streamed or broadcast). Worse comes to worse, you can listen to the action on WFLA (970 on your radio dial). Radio broadcasts are always highly entertaining.
It’s important to realize that you shouldn’t read too much into these preseason games. Yes, they are key to player development, but if Amir Miftakhov makes 32 saves, it doesn’t mean he should be backing up Andrei Vasilevskiy when the puck drops on opening night. They will be competing against a similar young line-up from Carolina. What you can garner from these games is if some of the young players “look” like they belong in the NHL. Stats aren’t quite as important as seeing how they react to plays on the ice. It’s a good baseline to set for some of the young players.
If you are a regular reader of this site, you’ll know that we’ve referenced the growth of Alex Barré-Boulet struggled with the NHL speed in his first few exhibition games a few years ago. There was a marked improvement to his game in later training camps and scrimmages, and then he showed he was ready last season in the NHL games he played in last season.
It’s also an excellent litmus test for the players themselves. While the majority of players they face will likely be heading back to juniors or to the AHL, there are enough NHL players in the line-up to give them a taste of the game at the highest level. They’ll head back to their teams knowing what to do to improve their play and reach the next level.
Lightning / NHL News
Boris Katchouk is moving up the charts in the Top 25 Under 25. This season he is in the #8 spot as he enters camp with a spot to make the Lightning. [Raw Charge]
Our #9 pick, Taylor Raddysh, rededicated himself during last year’s pandemic pause. He enters this year’s camp in the best shape of his life, determined to take the next step in his career path. [The Athletic - subscription required]
Andrej Sustr appears to have his camera with him at training camp. His Instagram feed is filling up with behind the scenes photos of the Bolts as they return to action. [Instagram]
Last week the Syracuse Crunch signed Brandon Crawley to an AHL contract. Yesterday the Lighting signed him to a PTO. Need to have some warm bodies in camp with the number of exhibition games they have this week. [Cap Friendly Twitter]
Mathieu Joseph is likely to play in a lot of games for the Lightning this season. There is also a chance he plays on all four lines. [Tampa Bay Times]
The official NHL calendar of events has been released. Interesting to note that free agency isn’t on it’s usual July 1st date. Looks like all of the pundits will have to wait a couple of weeks to head up to their lake cottages next summer. [Twitter]
Puppies! The Washington Capitals are training a new service puppy. [Caps Pup Twitter]
The NHL Wheel of Justice is getting in its preseason reps as well. The Department of Player
Discipline Safety issued a couple of suspensions. First Ottawa’s Ridly Greig was suspended for two games cross-checking Pierre-Luc Dubois in the face. Then veteran Dylan McIlrath was suspended for two preseason games and two regular seasons games after the Capitals defenseman smoked the Bruins’ Steven Fogarty in the head during their game. Don’t do that NHL players.
The Winter Classic is heading to Minnesota in 2022. On Monday, the league held a press conference at Target Field to announce the particulars. It looks like they expect 44,000 fans to attend the game and tickets will go on sale Wednesday. The game is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm local time, so the entire game should be under the lights of the converted baseball stadium. [Star Tribune]