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Six forwards likely fighting for two jobs with Lightning

ESTERO — A short training camp doesn't just make for more intense practices, it creates intense roster battles as well. For the Lightning, a big one is shaping up at forward.

Assuming 13 forwards on the opening-day roster — and considering GM Steve Yzerman has said roster spots will be filled from within the organization — two jobs are available with six players in the mix: Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Kyle Wilson, Mike Angelidis and J.T. Wyman.

"We're not just trying to fill jerseys," coach Guy Boucher said. "We're really looking at what every player can do. There are holes we want to plug, definitely. It's going to be a fight."

Monday at Germain Arena, much of the scrutiny was on Conacher, who had a high-profile left wing spot on a line with C Vinny Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell.

"He did fine," Boucher said. "He did a good job. He pushed the pace with them. That's what I'm looking for, someone who can push the pace and is going to be first on puck in the offensive zone."

For Conacher, 23, the last cut at last season's camp who has 12 goals, 28 points in 36 games this season for AHL Syracuse, the day was somewhat of a dream as he said Lecavalier was a player he idolized.

"It's very exciting," he said. "I'm short of breath it's so exciting."

Not that he lost track of the moment.

"It's going to be very intense," Conacher said of this week, and added, "They're giving me an opportunity and I have to take advantage of it. It's important for me to prove I can play with guys like that."

UNHAPPY ENDING: D Mattias Ohlund, who has not been on skates since Nov. 11, said the surgery he had in February to repair his left knee has not had the desired effect, and for the first time acknowledged what so many have been thinking: His career might be over.

"I'm not even close to skating," Ohlund said. "Clearly, it's not going the way I thought or everybody wanted when I had my surgery done. My normal life is fine but I'm not close to where I want to be."

Ohlund, 36, had what amounted to a partial knee replacement as a thin layer of titanium resurfaced the bottom of his femur at the joint behind the kneecap. Cartilage there had worn away causing painful bone-on-bone friction.

"Nobody has told me it's impossible to ever play again, but clearly the longer it goes the chances of that are getting tougher and tougher," Ohlund said. "You have to be realistic that the chances are not great."

The problem for the team is the $11.75 million Ohlund has left on a contract that runs through 2015-16. Because he is injured he can't be bought out. Ohlund and Yzerman will chat this season about Ohlund's future.

RESPECTFUL: The 13 players who on Monday attended the funeral of Katie Moore — wife of former Lightning player Dominic Moore, who died Jan. 7 of liver cancer — arrived at Germain Arena at 5:30 p.m. for a 6:30 practice.

"It was very emotional," Lecavalier said of the funeral. "I can't even imagine what (Dominic) is going through right now, and the way he presented himself was incredible. We were happy to be there to support him."

WORKOUT: Purcell, Wilson and Dana Tyrell scored consecutive goals for the Blue team in its 3-2 victory over the White. Radko Gudas and Steven Stamkos scored for White. … The only consistent lines were Lecavalier's with Conacher and Purcell, and Stamkos between Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone. … The Lightning skates at 10:30 a.m. today and will play two 30-minute scrimmages.

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

Six forwards likely fighting for two jobs with Lightning 01/14/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 11:28pm]
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