TAMPA — After watching many of the teams around the league open their exhibition schedules in the past few days, the Lightning will do the same tonight against the St. Louis Blues at the Amway Center in Orlando.
“It's exciting. You see games just started the past few days and you watch other teams out there,'' Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “I stayed up kind of late (Monday) night watching the Canucks play the Sharks and you are like, 'I can't wait for that to happen here in Tampa.' So I'm really looking forward to Orlando.''
Cooper said he will be on the bench for all four games this week instead of in the press box watching from above the ice.
“Because we have kind of a new (coaching) staff, I just think it's unfair to put different guys in different situations right now out of the gate,'' Cooper said. “We sent a message here from the get-go that we have been on the ice with them for every single (practice) session, so I don't see any reason why we would make it to the game to jump up to the press box. I want to be there with the guys. You get a pretty good feel for the guys when you're on the bench, so that's a big part of it, too, how guys act when they are on the bench, their whole demeanor, so you get a good grasp on that.''
The lineup for the preseason opener, including line combinations:
Forwards: Alex Killorn-Valtteri Filppula-Teddy Purcell; Dana Tyrell-Nate Thompson-B.J. Crombeen; Henri Ikonen-Mike Angelidis-Tom Pyatt; J.T. Brown-Cedric Paquette-Adam Erne
Defensive pairings: Matt Carle-Radko Gudas; Slater Koekkoek-Mark Barberio; Dmitry Korobov-Nikita Nesterov
Goaltenders: Cedrick Desjardins-Kristers Gudlevskis
Cooper said Desjardins and Gudlevskis are scheduled to split time in net.
Brett Connolly had the only goal during Tuesday's scrimmage, giving Team Blue a 1-0 victory. The goal was Connolly's second in as many scrimmages, with No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin providing the primary assist on both.
“Our line has clicked well both games,'' Connolly said. “He's a world-class player, he showed that last year, and he's showing it at this training camp. He's fun to play with in practice and the games. He's very, very good at passing, and nine times out of 10 he is going to put it on your stick, so you have to be ready.''
G Anders Lindback stopped all 14 shots he faced in the first half of the scrimmage, while Ben Bishop stopped four of five shots. In the second half, Gudlevskis stopped all four shots he faced, while tryout invitee Eric Brassard stopped all seven shots he faced.
With only four goals scored in the two scrimmages, Cooper was somewhat torn assessing the results.
“I thought either we've taught really good defense or we sucked all the offense out of this really talented team,'' Cooper joked.
Out of action
D Dylan Blujus, a second-round pick in 2012, underwent knee surgery on Tuesday and gave out the information before the team.
Blujus sent out an update via his Twitter account @DBluu94 that stated: “It's never easy waking up this early when it's still dark as night out. #surgery''
Blujus has not been on the ice since training camp started after his knee issue was discovered during physicals and testing. The 19-year-old will remain with Tampa Bay during his rehabilitation.
Blujus is expected to return to Brampton in the Ontario Hockey League when ready to return to action.
Tampa Bay reduced its training camp roster by four players, releasing Brassard, F Brett Welychka, D Jake Dotchin and G Eric Brassard from their tryout agreements. Dotchin was a sixth-round draft by the Lightning in 2012 but remains unsigned.
Nuts and Bolts
Tampa Bay announced the signing of RW Joel Vermin to a standard three-year entry-level contract. Vermin, a seventh-round pick in this year's draft, will remain with Bern in the Swiss Elite League this season. ... Tonight will be the sixth preseason game the Lightning have played in Orlando, but just the second since 1996. Tampa Bay also faced St. Louis at Amway Center on Sept. 21, 2011.