ESTERO — Heading into the final few days of training camp, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper hinted the lineup for the final preseason game on Saturday might forecast the opening-night roster.
But with some decisions still to be made, the lineup against Florida for the preseason finale at BB&T Center still includes some players getting one last look before final cuts to get down to a 23-man roster ahead of Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
“I think you’ve seen some lines consistently play together, and I think the chemistry between them is pretty much set, so we are just trying to find the balance of who is going to fill out those last couple of roster spots,’’ Cooper said. “On (defense), the guys have been playing all over the place, but we have to get some games in for some of the guys who haven’t played and get some rest for guys that have played.”
The lineup for Saturday’s game includes the lines of Jonathan Drouin, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis; Alex Killorn, Valtterri Filppula and Teddy Purcell; Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik; J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly and Nikita Kucherov. On defense, the pairings are Victor Hedman and Sami Salo, Matt Carle and Radko Gudas, J.P. Cote and Andrej Sustr. The goaltenders are Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop, with Lindback expected to play the full 60 minutes.
G Kristers Gudlevskis trained with the team throughout the week at Germain Arena and dressed as the backup in Thursday’s game. The Lightning’s fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft figures to compete for a spot in the organizational depth chart with Cedrick Desjardins and Riku Helenius, including some potential time with Syracuse in the American Hockey League. But the 21-year-old could start the season with the Florida Everblades in the East Coast Hockey League, which calls Germain Arena home.
Nuts and Bolts
Malone returned to practice on Friday after missing the previous two days with an upper-body injury. ...Connolly will play his second consecutive game at center.