Is Sunday's Tampa Bay Lightning lineup a preview of opening night?
That is perhaps too simplistic. Still, Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said of the lineup for Sunday's preseason finale with the Thrashers in Atlanta, "It's fairly close. That's pretty well as close as you're going to get."
On the other hand, he also said, "Stuff happens this week," meaning trades or waiver transactions could be made. And, certainly, Tampa Bay, with 29 players still in camp, will try to get several players through waivers to AHL Norfolk.
"On D, you never know," Tocchet said. "We have quality defensemen who are not in the lineup tonight who could be in the lineup a week from now."
Here is the game group:
Mike Smith, Antero Niittymaki.
Ryan Malone-Steve Stamkos-Marty St. Louis.
Alex Tanguay-Vinny Lecavalier-Steve Downie.
Drew Miller-Jeff Halpern-James Wright.
Todd Fedoruk-Zenon Konopka-Stephane Veilleux
Mattias Ohlund-Victor Hedman
Paul Ranger-Matt Walker
Andrej Meszaros-Kurtis Foster
Not playing: Forwards -- Ryan Craig, Adam Hall, Brett McLean, Brandon Bochenski. Defensemen -- Matt Smaby, Lukas Krajicek, David Hale, Matt Lashoff, Mike Lundin.
Remember, though, the Lightning is expected to keep eight defensemen, at least that is what GM Brian Lawton has said, and could keep up to 13 forwards, so some decisions likely still have to be made. But open spots are dwindling to a precious few.
"We haven't made final decisions, but we all realize the deadlines," Lawton said of the Wednesday cutoff to have rosters to the league. "We're going to sit down (today) after the game. For anybody who needs waivers, that would happen by Tuesday at noon (so players can be cleared by Wednesday). By Tuesday, we'll have it wrapped up and finalized."