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Bishop, Vasilevskiy back from World Cup

27

September

There was a familiar sight Tuesday, with Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy sharing the net in goaltending drills before the team's morning skate.

Both had been at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, Bishop for Team USA, Vasilevskiy with Russia. Vasilevskiy wasted no time in returning, asking after Russia's loss in Saturday's semifinal to get the first flight to Tampa Sunday morning.

Vasilevskiy, who didn't play in either Russia's exhibitions or games, needs more action, and didn't rule out getting in one of three Lightning exhibitions this weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday).

"Why not?" he said, smiling.

Bishop, whose Team USA was eliminated Thursday, got in town Monday night. He started Thursday's loss to the Czech Republic, taking part in some exhibitions as well, so he feels like he didn't miss much early in training camp.

"It feels good to be back," Bishop said. "Obviously it wasn't the result that we would have liked in Toronto, but it's over and done with now. Just focused on camp now and getting ready for the season."

FIRST TASTE: Coach Jon Cooper, also back from the World Cup, asked players in the dressing room after the morning skate to raise their hands if it was their first NHL exhibition.

"A lot of guys raised their hands," he quipped.

Several prospects are set to make their exhibition debuts, including first round pick Brett Howden, second round pick Libor Hajek. Other 2015 draftees are playing in their first, too, with Mathieu Joseph, Dennis Yan, Bokondji Imama, Matt Spencer.

"It's very exciting, just anxious," Howden said. "It'll be a little different pace, faster than I'm used to, bigger and stronger guys. Just going to try to stay in the moment."

Said Spencer: "I've been looking for this for a long time."

Cooper said this will be a special opportunity for those prospects, likely to get sent back to their junior teams this week.

"I know for them, what a special time it is," Cooper said. "To think of how far they've come in their hockey career, to put on the jersey of the national hockey league team that drafted them and playing in front of the fans. It's got to be a huge thrill. I've been around for a little while now. You get to watch, shaking these guys hands on the draft floor and watching them to play their first exhibition game. I kind of feel like a proud dad."

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox are expected to split the game. Lightning wing Tye McGinn go to play against younger brother Brock (Carolina) during a regular season game last season. But Tuesday's exhibition was still family fun. "It was awesome," McGinn said. "To have the opporutnity to play against Brock, he's always my little brother. So to see him succeed it's something special." Cooper noted how C Tyler Johnson's demeanor and health is "night and day" better than entering camp last season, when he struggled to recover from a broken right wrist suffered in the '15 Cup Final. Johnson said it wasn't until January when he got strength back in his wrist, and he's much better heading into this one. The lines are: Killorn-Johnson-Conacher/Vermin-Point-Brown/yan-Howden-Joseph/Imama-Cirelli-McGinn.

Ben Bishop, whose Team USA was eliminated Thursday, returned to Tampa on Monday night.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ben Bishop, whose Team USA was eliminated Thursday, returned to Tampa on Monday night.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 2:04pm]

    

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