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Previewing the East: Tampa Bay

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Ready for some hockey?

Sure you are.

The Red Wings don’t open training camp until Sept. 19 in Traverse City, but over the next eight weeks's Bill Roose will preview the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings’ Atlantic Division rivals in Boston, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Buffalo. This week it's the Tampa Bay Lightning:

Coach: Jon Cooper

Last Year: 46-27-9, 101 points (third in Eastern Conference)
Detroit vs. Lightning: 1-2-2
5-on-5 Goals: 156 (fourth in Eastern Conference)
Power Play Efficiency: 50-for-270, 18.5 percent (eighth in Eastern Conference)

2013-14 Stats Vs. Red Wings
Player POS AGE rank GM G A PT. GM G A PT.
Martin St. Louis* RW 39 19 81 30 39 69 4 0 2 2
Ondrej Palat LW 23 51 81 23 36 59 5 2 1 3
Valtteri Filppula C 30 54 75 25 33 58 4 1 1 2
Victor Hedman D 23 66 75 13 42 55 3 0 2 2
Tyler Johnson C 24 89 82 24 26 50 5 1 1 2
2013-14 Stats
Goalie AGE Rank GM W L OTL GAA SV%
Ben Bishop 27 4 63 37 14 7 2.23 .924
vs. Red Wings
5 4 1 0 1.56 .946

2014-15 OUTLOOK

Regular-Season Games vs. Red Wings: Nov. 9 (at DET); Jan. 29 (at TBL); Mar. 20 (at TBL); Mar. 28 (at DET).

ARRIVALS:  Forwards Brenden Morrow, Brian Boyle, Jeff Costello, Jerome Samson, Mike Blunden; defensemen Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, Matt Corrente; and goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

DEPARTURES:  Forwards Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson, B.J. Crombeen, Tom Pyatt, Pierre-Cedric Labrie; defensemen Sami Salo, Keith Aulie, Brian Lee, Mike Kostka; and goalies Anders Lindback and Cedric Desjardins.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Not flashy offensively, but that’s not why the Lightning went out and got Anton Stralman, who was an UFA following his appearance in the Stanley Cup finals with the Rangers. Stralman’s first approach to the position is very much about being responsible defensively. He only produced a goal and 13 points in 81 games and five points in the postseason, but he was steady, playing in all 25 contests. As a right-handed shooting D-man, Stralman was in high demand in free agency and he certainly cashed in, receiving a five-year deal worth $22.5 million – that comes out to $4.5 million annually. Stralman should fit in well with whoever his new D-partner becomes out of a trio of lefties – Victor Hedman, Matt Carle or newly acquired Jason Garrison.

SEASON SCOPE: Stralman wasn’t the only former Ranger who couldn’t pass up Tampa’s warm weather, nor the allure of the young, exciting team that the Lightning has assembled. Brian Boyle, a 6-foot-7, 244-pound center, signed a three-year, $6.9 million contract to rejoin former New York teammates Ryan Callahan and Stralman. Boyle isn’t a big point-producer but he’ll play a key role as an imposing figure on a checking line, perhaps with Brenden Morrow and J.T. Brown

Jonathan Drouin, the third overall draft pick in 2013, is a tremendous playmaking winger, who has all of the intangibles to become the first Tampa rookie ever to win the Calder Trophy. Sooner than later, Drouin will elevate to a top-six forward role playing with either centers Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula. In his final junior season in the QMJHL, Drouin was a two-points-per-game producer, finishing with 108 points and a league-best 79 assists. … Lightning forwards Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were Calder finalists last season.

Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division
Buffalo (July 24) Carolina (Aug. 7)
Boston (sep. 11) Columbus (Aug. 21)
Florida (July 29) New Jersey (Aug. 14)
Montreal (Sep. 2) NY Islanders (July 31)
Ottawa (Aug. 12) NY Rangers (Aug. 28)
Tampa Bay (Sep. 4) Philadelphia (Aug. 26)
Toronto (Aug. 5) Pittsburgh (sep. 9)
Washington (Aug. 19)

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