Moving the second-half of their training camp slate to Estero, Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning head to the Music City tonight to face the Nashville Predators for the second and final time of the preseason.
On Saturday, the Lightning won their fourth consecutive game when forward Jonathan Drouin netted a third-round shootout goal. The victory in the shootout was the second time the skills competition was needed in their first four games for the Bolts.
Now Tampa Bay’s roster has been trimmed by 23 as of late Saturday and 36 players’ fate has yet to be determined. Only two exhibition games remain on the Bolts preseason schedule after tonight’s game.
Deciding not to have a morning skate prior to Tuesday’s contest, the Lightning checked-in with the media between lunch and a mid-day meeting.
FORMER NASHVILLE NETMINDER
Former seventh-round pick (207th overall) by the Predators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, goalie Anders Lindback returns to Bridgestone Arena for the first time since being traded to Tampa Bay last summer.
“It will be fun,” Lindback said. “It will be nice to see everyone on the team and to be around the rink, but I’m mostly excited to play a game there.”
It will be nice to see everyone on the team and to be around the rink, but I’m mostly excited to play a game there. - Anders Lindback
Although he will be in net against his former team, he doesn’t feel any pressure to prove anything to the Predators. Lindback is more concerned about showing he is a good fit with the Bolts.
“I’m fighting for a spot here,” he said. “It is more that I want to prove myself and show guys on my team I can play. I want to put myself in a position to play good. I think Nashville will recognize that too.”
Despite playing only 30 minutes between the pipes in the preseason so far, Lindback said he feels better in goal each day.
“I’m getting more and more comfortable everyday on the ice,” he said. “It will be great for me to have a whole game, rather than playing half like I’ve been.”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Tampa Bay is a week-and-a-half deep into training camp and stories behind each player are starting to develop. Though center Valtteri Filppula is nearly a lock at playing on one of the top-two lines, he is not immune to making adjustments.
“He has confidence, exceptional stick skills and he can skate,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “You add that all up and you’ve got a pretty good hockey player. Offensively, defensively, he’s always in the right spot. If I could poke a hole in his game, I wish he could shoot more.”
And Filppula agrees.
“I think it is part of my game that I need to be better at,” Filppula said. “Trying to shoot more would create more offense for us.”
Admitting that he can be a creature of habit, Filppula knows that he will have to continue to practice at what’s come to be known as “the Cooper style.”
“I’ve been trying to work on it,” he continued. “Things happen quick on the ice and a lot of times you do things that come natural to you.”
While the first part of Bolts training camp was broad-based, Cooper said that part two will be focused on what certain players can bring to the table.
“Now it’s more individual, system-based and what we’re going to do on Opening Night versus Boston,” he said. “We’ll be looking at certain breakouts we’re going to be using, certain ways we’re going to play on the power-play and going to penalty kill. It was basically Tampa Bay Lightning 101 for the first week-and-a-half, now we’re getting into advanced calculus.”
Offensive lines and defensive pairings, however, are not set in stone.
“We’ll see how it works putting guys in different situations,” Cooper said. “We’ll see how they adapt and play with different players. For defensive pairings, we’ll see how they match-up together.”
ODDS ‘N ENDS
After seeing Drouin at center thus far in training camp, Cooper said today that he would be positioned at the wing Tuesday. Cooper also mentioned that Kucherov, who has been playing on the right-wing, will be playing on the left.
Defensemen - Mark Barberio, Eric Brewer, J.P. Cote, Dmitry Korobov, Victor Hedman, Sami Salo, Andrej Sustr; Forwards - J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, B.J. Crombeen, Jonathan Drouin, Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Kucherov, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson, Dana Tyrell
Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback are tonight’s two netminders a part of the roster against Nashville. Lindback will be the starter in goal.