The pre-season finale is upon the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday as they renew acquaintances with the Florida Panthers in Amalie Arena.
For what was supposed to be a straight-forward pre-season, dozens of story lines unfolded, especially with Jonathan Drouin’s injury changing the focus of the coverage as everyone guesses which forward will get the opportunity to stick around. And what other forwards will be shuffled into other slots to make room for the best lines. I haven’t seen this much pre-season line shuffling in a long time and for a team that made the playoff the year before.
You probably know that the Lightning won 3-0 against the Panthers in Sunrise on Thursday with Evgeni Nabokov earning the shutout (and Stamkos mixing it up, too). So here’s everything else you need to know to get you caught up on the Lightning’s preseason as well as the preseason of our Bygone Bolts.
- Brian Boyle could be a third-line winger instead of a center for the bulk of the season, which to me ought to be higher up in this story after hearing the Lightning won’t be rushing Drouin for the 500th time. Dan Rosen | NHL
- Brett Connolly hasn’t scored in the preseason until here of late, but it’s the rest of his improved game that the Bolts bosses like seeing. Could he stick around? Joe Smith | Tampa Bay Times
- Merde! Syracuse Crunch lose first game against Binghamton Senators in a preseason game held in Lyon, France. Lindsay Kramer | The Post-Standard
- Another reason to shout “merde” is the cozy rooms the Crunch have in France, via Dan Milan:
— Dan Milan (@StylinMilan) September 30, 2014
- Luke Witkowski is quieting his game, other than a few fights, to keep him around in Tampa for now. Lindsay Kramer | The Post-Standard
- Keeping it in the minor leagues. Bolt Prospects has a new podcast.
- Jason Garrison is a fashionista off the ice and a puck cannon on the ice. Joe Smith | Tampa Bay Times
- Evgeni Nabokov may have an old school style in net, but don’t call him old. Joe Smith | Tampa Bay Times
- Nabby and Big Ben will form a solid net pairing this year, if you didn’t know. Ryan Toohey | Naples Daily News
- Lightning and Fort Myers area residents embracing the Bolts’ annual visit Estero. [Video is viewable; subscription required for story] Ryan Toohey | Naples Daily News
- Brenden Morrow’s back spasms are improving but still keeping him out. Joe Smith | Tampa Bay Times
- Here’s seven minutes of Jon Cooper assessing where his team is at before they faced the Panthers Thursday night. What’s the “C word” again Coops? Oh, consistency. Ok. Lightning
- Namestnikov adding some muscle to make a case for a NHL roster spot. Lightning
- Season preview that recaps everything recappable. Kyle Alexander | Raw Charge
- A defense season preview that recaps anything defensible. David Baldwin | Raw Charge
Everything is turning up Vinik this week, so much so that I had to devote an entire subheading for him.
- Here’s Vinik passing out food to raise money for hungry kids through a new Lightning-themed food truck at Amalie Arena. Lightning
- Here’s Jeff Vinik’s swanky new hotel he’s going to be building in the parking lot south of Amalie Arena. Jerome Stockfish | Tampa Tribune
- Oh hell, what’s one hotel when you can have two? The existing Marriott Waterside is now his, too. For $150 million.
- Now that he controls most of the land from the Florida Aquarium to Waterside, Vinik has a master plan in the works thanks to the kind financial investment by billionaire Bill Gates. Richard Mullins | Tampa Tribune
- That plan also means because he’s building a new neighborhood, he’s going to redraw where the streets go, too. Richard Mullins | Tampa Tribune
- Marty St. Louis: Your new center for the Rangers. Pat Leonard | New York Daily News
- Dan Boyle: Says Marty can play defense if he wants, too. Zach Braziller | New York Post
- Dominic Moore: Not your clear-cut No. 2 center. Larry Brooks | New York Post
- Ryan Malone: His latest injury is a hip flexor. Blueshirt Banter
- Brad Richards: So glad he’s out of New York City. Patrick Kane agrees. Chris Kuc | Chicago Tribune
- Dana Tyrell: Your latest cut from the Blue Jackets. Shawn Mitchell | Columbus Dispatch
- B.J. Crombeen: He has no go-to goal celebration. Sarah McLellan | Arizona Republic
- Nate Thompson: Proud to be a “little things” specialist for the Ducks. Eric Stephens | Los Angeles Register
- Anders Lindback: Winner of back-up gig with the Stars after Jussi Rynnas was waived. Defending Big D
- Simon Gagne: Acknowledges time is running out to prove he can make the Bruins. Nicholas Gross | NESN
- Vincent Lecavalier: Subject of a new T-shirt to get him out of Philly. Raw Charge
- Brian Lee: Released from Predators tryout. Nashville Predators
- Shane O’Brien: Chances increased to make Panthers after Kulikov injury. Harvey Fialkov | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- Dan Ellis: Breaking in his San Antonio Rampage gear after being cut by the Panthers.
Sunshine State ECHL
- Florida Everblades open training camp at Germain Arena on Friday. Naples Daily News
- From 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, you can mix and mingle with Everblades players at Sidelines Sports & Grill in Ft. Myers. Everblades Facebook
- Solar Bears camp opens Saturday at RDV Sportsplex in Orlando. Orlando Solar Bears
- ‘Blades coach Greg Poss: “There’s no screwing around. This is our lives. There’s no time for self pity. Here’s a dime, call somebody who cares.” Craig Handel | News-Press
- Everblades sign three twenty somethings. Naples Daily News
- Orlando Solar Bears supporting battle against domestic violence. Michael Freeman | Winter Park Forum
- The Solar Bears are hosting the ECHL All-Star Game in January, which means some cool events. Tickets will be on sale Oct. 16 for the ECHL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Orlando Solar Bears
- Also that weekend, artifacts from the Hockey Hall of Fame telling the history of the ECHL and Florida hockey will be on display. Fan Fest tickets will also go on sale Oct. 16. Orlando Solar Bears