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At the Rink: Flyers at Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will not have much time to celebrate the raising of their Eastern Conference championship banner if they hope to get a jump on a tough early schedule against the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

The Lightning will play seven of their first 10 games on the road and will need to match their home success of last season (32-8-1) to stay on track.

"I think all four home teams lost [Wednesday]," Lightning goalie Ben Bishop said. "That's one of those things you got to take note of and realize you got to be focused from the start."

Bishop said this is probably the toughest month of games he's seen on the schedule since he's been in Tampa Bay. But he also said it's important to have a strong October and pile up points early.

"We always talk about that," Bishop said. "You always want to be in the playoffs at the end of the month. You don't want to be chasing [points] from the start."

Coach Jon Cooper is particularly wary of a stretch against Central Division teams near the end of the month. However, he doesn't want the Lightning to look past the Flyers and their talented group of forwards.

"They've got a boatload of skill," Cooper said. "Claude Giroux, to me, is a top five player in the League. He's just a threat all over the ice. They've got grit. [Wayne] Simmonds is a tough player to play against. Their power play is dazzling. We can't put them on the power play. So if we want to give ourselves a chance to win we have to limit the penalties."

Cooper, however, also wanted the Lightning to embrace their Stanley Cup Playoff run from last season and enjoy the moment when the banner is raised.

"I would say there's no question it's a sense of accomplishment and you can't look at it as motivation because you have to make playoffs first," Cooper said. "We should embrace what happened last year, it was a phenomenal experience. We found out a lot about ourselves. There were 16 teams in the East and only one team came out of there. We should be proud of that."

Simmonds said the Lightning's depth is a cause for concern but he is looking forward to the opportunity to knock off the defending conference champions.

"We've got to jump right into it from the first second of the game," he said. "There should be no feeling out process. They have pretty much the same personnel over there and we've got pretty much the same personnel over here. I think we know what we've got to do to take care of business."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Scott Laughton - R.J. Umberger

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White

Mark Streit - Nick Schultz

Michael Del Zotto - Brandon Manning

Evgeny Medvedev - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Sam Gagner, Radko Gudas

Injured: None


Jonathan Drouin - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Erik Condra

Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matthew Carle - Jason Garrison

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Kevin Poulin

Scratched: Nikita Nesterov

Injured: Cedric Paquette (lower body), Andrei Vasilevskiy (blood clot)

Status report: The Lightning assigned defenseman Slater Koekkoek to Syracuse of the American Hockey League after placing him on the opening-night roster. ...Gudas missed 51 games last season with a knee injury. ...Paquette remains day-to-day after taking a shot off his leg during preseason.

Who's hot: Drouin led the Lightning with eight points (four goals, four assists) in the preseason. ... Brayden Schenn tied for the Flyers lead with three preseason goals.

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