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Final roster cuts for Tampa Bay Lightning might be on hold as injuries cloud issue



Teams have until 3 p.m. Wednesday to submit their 23-man rosters for the start of the regular season. The Tampa Bay Lightning may take it right to t he deadline. That was not the original plan. Coach Guy Boucher said he wanted all decisions made by last week. But injuries to defenseman Randy Jones (finger), right wing Teddy Purcell (charley horse) and center Dominic Moore (groin) have added an unwanted wrinkle.

It is not as if any of those players are on the bubble. That distinction goes to forwards Eric Perrin, Johan Harju and Dan Tyrell, and defensemen Matt Smaby, Mike Vernace and Mathieu Roy. But if any of the injured players will not be available for Saturday's season opener against the Thrashers at the St. Pete Times Forum, they could be put on injured reserve, which would open short-term roster spots.  Or perhaps the team simply is forced to keep more players at a specific position.

Either way, there are uncertainties.

The decisions were going to be difficult anyway.

"We saw too much," coach Guy Boucher said after Saturday night's 4-1 preseason finale victory over the Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum when asked if he has enough information to make the final calls. "We saw a lot of good things from all of them. That's where it's difficult. Some guys that are on the bubble made it happen.

So, we'll wait and see what happens.

Anyway, here are some thoughts on a successful 4-1-1 preseason:

First of all, don't put too much stock in preseason records. The Lightning was 5-1-0 in 2008 before finishing the regular season in 29th place overall. ... That said, I don't think the team could have asked for a better progression in the past few weeks given all the changes in the organization and that it still will be a while before the players are totally comfortable in Boucher's system. ... I know Boucher doesn't want his players to get comfortable, but wasn't it a bit of overkill the way he refused to let his players enjoy Saturday's win while going through the list of things they did wrong? But what do I know? He's the one with the sports psychology degree. ... As a whole, the team's greatest strength has been how quickly the players are on the puck. They really don't give the opposition time to breathe. The game is quick and fun to watch, and if the players can keep their intensity for an entire game, they are going to be very, very tough to play. ... Individually, captain Vinny Lecavalier appears rejuvenated (he was very good Saturday with eight shots on goal), left wing Simon Gagne could be the steal of the summer, and Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis seemed to have picked up where they left off last season. Defenseman Mike Lundin, in his quiet way, is becoming a solid blue-liner, though defenseman Mattias Ohlund hasn't answered questions as to whether he can keep up with the pace of the game. ... For all that, the bottom line still is goaltending. Mike Smith looked good in two games, but I wouldn't be surprised if he and Dan Ellis become a real 1-1A tandem. ... For all the talk about the top six forwards, the bottom six have proved to be feisty and engaged. ... Center Nate Thompson is emerging as a leader and character guy. ... And, finally, for anyone depressed by the Lightning's past few seasons, it seems like there's a light at the end of the tunnel. At the very least, this is going to be an entertaining team to watch.    

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 12:16am]


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