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First things first, here’s the lineup for tomorrow night’s preseason opener in Pittsburgh. It’s the type of lineup you’d expect considering the abbreviated camp:
Forwards – Jussi Jokinen, Radek Smolenak, Evgeny Artyukhin, David Koci, Steven Stamkos
, Zenon Konopka, Wyatt Smith, Ryan Craig, Michel Ouellet, Brandon Bochenski, Jason Ward, Chris Lawrence.
Defensemen – Andy Rogers, Janne Niskala, Matt Smaby, Jamie Heward, Vladimir Mihalik, Andrew Hutchinson.
Goaltenders – Mike Smith, Karri Ramo
Good luck to Steven Stamkos
, who will be playing in his first pro game.
Before I get to today’s scrimmage, I forgot to provide an update on Nick Tarnasky yesterday. Nick fractured his left thumb on the first day of camp and is expected to be out 2-3 weeks. He’s been walking around with a splint on the past two days, and knowing how tough Nick is I don’t expect this will be too much of a setback.
On to today’s fight-filled scrimmage. The hitting picked up, and by extension so did the fistacuffs. Chris Lawrence vs. Andy Rogers and David Koci vs. Sean O’Connor got things started off. After Zenon Konopka ran Olaf Kolzig we ended up with simultaneous bouts featuring Konopka vs. Radek Smolenak and Shane O’Brien vs. Vladimir Mihalik.
The hitting only picked up after that, and Brandon Segal literally tried to send Matt Carle through the glass, resulting in a large section of the end glass shattering and flying into the only unoccupied seats in the area. As for the result, Evgeny Artyukhin’s late goal resulted in a 2-2 tie. White went up 2-0 on goals by Jussi Jokinen and Segal, with Brandon Bochenski putting Black on the board to make it 2-1.
Overall, Paul Szczechura, Andrej Meszaros and Jokinen led the two games with two points each. Head coach Barry Melrose said he liked what he saw today much better.
“It was much better today,” Melrose said. “The intensity level was better and the competitiveness was much better. There was a lot more contact and fighting for the puck.”
Melrose, who stepped behind the bench for Team Black today, also said he sees the lineup taking shape in his mind.
“I basically know the 25 guys who are going to be fighting for the spots,” he said. “I wanted to get down to the bench today and see how they react.”