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With cuts looming, Tampa Bay Lightning's youngsters have final chance to impress; lineup, too



To find out who is involved in a roster battle for the Tampa Bay Lightning, look at who is in the lineup for tonight's preseason game at 7:30 p.m. with the Panthers in Sunrise.

Brett Connolly, Mattias Ritola, Cory Conacher, Dana Tyrell and Carter Ashton are all in the lineup for a second or third consecutive game which will go a long way for the Tampa Bay brass in figuring out the large cuts that are expected Sunday.

"It's starting to be a little too hard now," coach Guy Boucher said after Friday's 5-2 victory over Florida at the St. Pete Times Forum. "We're going back and forth about who's going to be playing (today)."

It has become an interesting battle. Tyrell was with the team all last season. Ritola, who scored Friday, spent time with the big club as well. But Connolly, the No. 6 overall draft pick of 2010, has assists in consecutive games and has impressed with a willingness to go to the net and get into the corners. Ashton, who has been gaining momentum as camp has gone along, scored Friday. And Conacher, undrafted and signed to a minor-league contract, has been the nicest surprise in camp.

Quite a difference from last season when the team, with new ownership, management and coaches, was in a massive transition and lacked even the modest depth the team now is showing.

Now there are expectations. Now there is competition.

"They're sticking and making it hard for us," Boucher said of his youngsters. "Last year we were struggling to see who we were going to get in our lineup to fill our lineup. Now, it's the opposite. We're going to have to cut guys who belong in the NHL. It's all good."

Here is the lineup for tonight's game:

Goaltenders -- Mathieu Garon, Jaroslav Janus.

Defensemen -- Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman, Bruno Gervais, Matt Gilroy, Brett Clark.

Forwards -- Brett Connolly, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Shannon, Mattias Ritola, Cory Conacher, Dana Tyrell, Carter Ashton, Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson, Adam Hall, Tom Pyatt, Steve Downie. 


[Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2011 12:15am]


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