Bishop to make preseason debut, Stamkos-Drouin together
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will make his first start of the preseason tonight against the Panthers at Amalie Arena, a good test to see how well his torn groin muscle has healed.
Bishop, who suffered the injury in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, has participated fully in camp so far, saying he's not limited by the injury. But Bishop, who is expected to split the game with backup goalie candidate Kristers Gudlevskis, will be tested more than he has since the playoffs.
"Naturally want to see where he's at," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's had a pretty good camp. Tonight is his first step."
Gudlevskis, 23, will make his preseason debut, having been sidelined early in camp with an upper body injury. Every game he plays in will be important, as he's auditioning to earn the backup spot while Andrei Vasilevskiy is hurt.
Another storyline to watch tonight is captain Steven Stamkos once again playing on a line with wing Jonathan Drouin. The two have been paired ever since camp began, including in the exhibition opener Tuesday against the Predators, when Drouin scored a breakaway goal.
While there's no guarantee Stamkos and Drouin remain together when the season opens Oct. 8, they both enjoy playing with each other, offering a dynamic one-two punch that at least elicits curiosity from the Lightning brass.
"I just want to caution everyone, just because you're using someone in camp, doesn't mean that's how everything is going to play out," Cooper said. "But we do want to see them together, and see if some chemistry starts coming together, and this is the time to do that. While they're on the same line we like to see what they can do. I always say that the first game everyone plays in the preseason, you push that one (aside), now it's their second game together. We hope that a little bit more chemistry comes about with these two, because they're both great talents. You saw a little bit of it the other night, hopefully you see more tonight."
Veterans Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle and Jason Garrison will also make their preseason debut, with prospects like Matthew Peca and Tony DeAngelo getting their second game of the preseason.