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Just got the lineup for tomorrow’s preseason game vs. Pittsburgh at the St. Pete Times Forum (7:30 p.m.) – it’s a decent lineup for the fans:
Forwards – Ryan Malone
, Steven Stamkos
, Radim Vrbata, Vaclav Prospal, Jussi Jokinen, Evgeny Artyukhin, David Koci, Zenon Konopka, Jason Ward, Dana Tyrell
, Paul Szczechura, Michel Ouellet
Defensemen – Shane O’Brien, Mike Lundin, Adrej Meszaros, Ty Wishart, Janne Niskala, Matt Carle
Goaltenders – Olaf Kolzig, Riku Helenius
Head coach Barry Melrose said Kolzig will likely play the entire game, and he expects each of Kolzig, Mike Smith and Karri Ramo to play two full games during the preseason.
“I’ve never liked playing goalies for only half a game,” he said. “I like to see guys in game conditions, and that’s a full game.”
It will be interesting to see Stamkos with Malone and Vrbata – I think everyone is hoping that line will find some chemistry quickly.
Today was a good day for the players and the fans. For starters, all the new faces and the Lightning lineup got a taste of the fantastic fan support they can expect this year from a good crowd at IceFest. The “let’s go Lightning!” chants started early as the team practiced in two groups – those who didn’t play in last night’s win in Pittsburgh, followed by those who played.
The focus of the practice was special teams, with the first power-play unit of Vincent Lecavalier
, Martin St. Louis
, Prospal, Meszaros and Carle working together for the first time. Tensions got up a little bit between Prospal and Shane O’Brien at one point, but cooler heads prevailed.
Reflecting on last night’s win, Melrose said Janne Niskala, Jason Ward, Jussi Jokinen and Michel Ouellet all stood out, along with Karri Ramo.
“With guys like Ward, Ouellet and Jokinen, they know the contract situation here and they’re pros. We asked them to make our decisions tough and they have,” he said.