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Lightning preseason schedule includes five games in five nights in four time zones

When goaltender Mike Smith heard about the six preseason games the Lightning will play in seven nights, and the 6,803 miles the team will fly around four time zones, he joked that he was already feeling the jet lag.

"The last time I did that was, ah, let me think — never," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

The final stop was announced Tuesday, an exhibition (actually, kind of a scrimmage, general manager Brian Lawton said) Sept. 25 against the Lightning's AHL affiliate in Norfolk, Va.

The addition means that beginning Sept. 21, Tampa Bay plays five games in five nights — against the Senators at Regina, Saskatchewan; the Coyotes in Everett, Wash., and Loveland, Colo.; the Oilers in Winnipeg and the Admirals in Norfolk.

Then comes a break, all of one day, as the team travels to Atlanta to finish the trip and its eight-game preseason schedule Sept. 27 against the Thrashers.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Lawton said. "It's great to see the guys practice, but it's much easier to evaluate them in live competition. This almost guarantees everybody will get a number of games."

Lawton said he expects 40 players to make the trip.

The collective bargaining agreement prohibits players in preseason from playing more than two games back to back. Lawton said younger players such as rookie defenseman Victor Hedman likely will play three games in four days.

You've got to pay your dues," Lawton said. "You've got to earn it. This will be a good test."

One that center Jeff Halpern would relish.

"I would much rather be playing games than practicing, so I don't mind all the games " he said. "The biggest thing is how quick the games come. That's the biggest adjustment. Hopefully the games will be fun."

Right wing Marty St. Louis also likes the hectic schedule.

"I like the fact that I will be able to play every other day," he said. "I feel it will help me get in shape."

Once he gets past the jet lag.

TV TIME: Two Lightning games are scheduled to be televised nationally on Versus, Jan. 19 against the Rangers in New York and March 2 at home against the Flyers. Tampa Bay could get two games on NBC, Jan. 31 against the Capitals in Washington and March 14 at home against the Penguins. The network will decide later.

TIME CHANGE: The Lightning's Jan. 27 home game against the Canadiens has been moved to 7 p.m. (from 7:30) to accommodate TSN's national telecast in Canada.

NORFOLK ASSISTANT RESIGNS: The Admirals announced that assistant coach Alan May resigned. No reason was given. A replacement should be in place by next week, the team said.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Lightning preseason schedule

All times Eastern and subject to change:

Sept. 16: at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 18: vs. Thrashers, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21: vs. Senators, Regina, Saskatchewan, 9 p.m.

Sept. 22: vs. Coyotes, Everett, Wash., 10:30 p.m.

Sept. 23: vs. Coyotes, Loveland, Colo., 9 p.m.

Sept. 24: vs. Oilers at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 25: at AHL Norfolk, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 27: at Atlanta, 5 p.m.

Lightning preseason schedule includes five games in five nights in four time zones 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:51pm]
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