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Lightning Round: Expect tonight’s preseason game to be a lot more like a regular season game

Now that the roster is all but set, it’s time to get ready for the season.

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers - Preseason Game 4

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Location: FLA Live Arena

Streaming: www.nhl.com/lightning

Opposing SBNation site: Litter Box Cats

After three lackluster preseason performances with rosters consisting of players now in AHL or junior training camps, the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to ramp up their play with the start of the regular season less than a week away. On Wednesday PC Labrie was added to the Syracuse Crunch training camp, leaving the Lightning with 25 players in their camp including Anthony Cirelli and Zach Bogosian, two players that will start the season on Long Term Injured Reserve.

That means it’s likely that the 23 players left are the ones that will constitute the roster on opening night. So these last two preseason games, both against the Panthers, will have a regular season vibe to them. Andrei Vasilevskiy will get his first game action of the preseason in at least one of the two meetings, and the lines will look a lot more familiar to Lightning fans. In the last couple of practices, this is how they’ve lined up:

Vlad Namestnikov-Steven Stamkos- Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel-Brayden Point- Alex Killorn

Cole Koepke-Nick Paul- Ross Colton

Patrick Maroon- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare- Corey Perry

Defense:

Victor Hedman- Cal Foote

Mikhail Sergachev- Erik Cernak

Ian Cole-Phillipe Myers

Hadyn Fleury- Nick Perbix

Don’t be surprised to see some form of those lines over the next two games. There may be some tweaking along the way, but that pretty much looks like what the regular season roster will look like. Gabriel Fortier, who is looking like the 13th forward right now, will likely see some action as well.

Not only will the team be looking to tune up in preparation for the regular season, they will also be looking to beat the Panthers, because it’s always fun to beat the Panthers. Florida, on the other hand, will be looking to exact some sort of revenge for second round sweep in last year’s playoffs. Not that winning a preseason game is equal to a playoff game, but they would draw some measure of satisfaction beating the Bolts.

Regardless of the reasons, tonight’s game should be more entertaining than the first three the Lightning played.

Lightning / NHL News

Steven Stamkos is ranked 18th on NHL Network’s Top Players

NHL.com’s Chris Krenn details some notes from training camp as it enters its last week (also the article where we got the Lightning’s lines above).

A more mature Vlad Namestnikov returns to the Lightning. (Subscription required)

So far Hockey Canada has refused to change their leadership despite the ongoing issues that are being exposed on a regular basis. However, now that big time sponsors are starting to “pause their support” for men’s hockey that might might change things a bit. Scotiabank and Tim Horton’s have both announced that they won’t be supporting men’s tournaments in the near future (though they will still provide sponsorship for Hockey Canada’s women’s programs and youth initiatives).

Hughes ‘reminds me a lot’ of Kucherov, new Devils teammate Palat says [NHL.com]

Old friend Ondrej Palat has been impressed by the work ethic of young Jack Hughes and it reminds him of the effort that Nikita Kucherov puts into practice.

Jason Robertson signs 4-year deal with Dallas Stars [Defending Big D]

It took all summer and a little bit of the fall, but one of the biggest restricted free agents finally came to terms with his team. Jason Robertson signed a 4-year deal with the Stars that averages $7.75 million a year. Honestly, that may be a bargain for the 23-year-old. He will still be a RFA when the deal expires, but one with arbitration rights and a qualifying offer around $9.6 million based on his salary. That’s a pretty decent bargaining position to be in.