Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning-Predators: 5 things we learned

Tampa Bay drops its second preseason game, and first at home, to Nashville.
Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott, right, watches the puck as teammate Charles Hudon (54) and Nashville Predators center Rem Pitlick (16) join the play during the second period of Thursday's preseason game at Amalie Arena.
Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott, right, watches the puck as teammate Charles Hudon (54) and Nashville Predators center Rem Pitlick (16) join the play during the second period of Thursday's preseason game at Amalie Arena. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Oct. 1, 2021|Updated Oct. 1, 2021

TAMPA — The Lightning’s first home preseason game — their first contest at Amalie Arena since lifting the Stanley Cup in July — was an uninspiring one.

Yes, the Lightning were working out some kinks Thursday in a 6-2 loss to the Predators, and it’s difficult to put too much into one game because the lines and defensive pairs aren’t what they will be when the regular season arrives.

“Regardless of how everything goes, we’ve got to play with a little more jam,” coach Jon Cooper said. “And that was lacking a little bit.”

Here are five things we learned from the game:

Cirelli’s exit gave a scare

Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, second from left, is congratulated by left wing Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Taylor Raddysh (16) after Cirelli scored in the first period.
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, second from left, is congratulated by left wing Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Taylor Raddysh (16) after Cirelli scored in the first period. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

The Lightning’s biggest goal of the preseason is to emerge healthy, so seeing center Anthony Cirelli disappear down the tunnel midway through the second period was unsettling. Cirelli didn’t return, but Cooper played down his injury after the game, saying he wasn’t concerned about its severity.

Cirelli, who scored in the first period, has had an outstanding training camp and was starting to get additional time on the power play to go along with his penalty kill responsibilities. A first-period injury to defenseman Erik Cernak also gave the Lightning — who are already without right-shot defenseman Cal Foote — a scare, too, but Cernak returned in the second.

Waiting for bubble players to separate themselves

The Lightning's Alex Barre-Boulet (12) tangles with Nashville Predators left wing Joseph LaBate (79) during the second period.
The Lightning's Alex Barre-Boulet (12) tangles with Nashville Predators left wing Joseph LaBate (79) during the second period. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Again, it’s early in the preseason, but several players fighting for roster spots — including forwards Alex Barre-Boulet, Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk and Simon Ryfors — played in each of the first two preseason games. We saw all four on the power play Thursday (the Lightning were 1-for-7 with the man advantage), but they haven’t really separated themselves from the pack.

“We’ve seen signs in these first two games and some potential, and then nothing,” Cooper said. “Some of the guys played in the league here before. I’m not saying you’re dipping your toe in the water, but you’re slowly getting yourself ready, and these guys know how to get themselves ready for Game 1. But there are some spots open here.”

Brian Elliott’s debut is complicated

Lightning goalie Brian Elliott (1) attempts to clear his eyes after giving up a goal in the second period.
Lightning goalie Brian Elliott (1) attempts to clear his eyes after giving up a goal in the second period. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

New backup goaltender Brian Elliott allowed three goals on 14 shots in his Lightning debut, but the defense in front of him didn’t really help. It allowed too many odd-man rushes and open shots. Elliott said he felt “a little out of sorts,” which is normal for the first time getting used to game action. He’s also adjusting to new teammates and a new system, so we’ll know more about how he’s progressing later. As a 14-year veteran on his sixth team, he has earned trust that he’ll be fine.

“There’s so many different things that go into (being a goalie) besides stopping the puck,” Cooper said. “It’s where we are in the (defensive) zone, where guys are on breakouts, just a whole plethora of things that go on. They have to learn players, where they like pucks. And then again, it’s our system and how we want our guys to play. … But I feel like that’s the least of our worries. We’re good in that area.”

Lots of can-do from Dumont

Lightning center Gabriel Dumont (40) tangles with Nashville Predators right wing Michael McCarron (47) during a faceoff in the second period.
Lightning center Gabriel Dumont (40) tangles with Nashville Predators right wing Michael McCarron (47) during a faceoff in the second period. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Forward Gabriel Dumont’s name isn’t one you’ll hear often, but he could end up being a valuable depth piece. Signed to a two-way deal in the offseason, the 30-year-old is on his third stint with the Lightning organization. He made some noteworthy contributions on the fourth line Thursday, playing a tough game, recording four hits and two takeaways, and winning 10 of 11 faceoffs.

Amalie is getting back to normal

Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal in the first period.
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal in the first period. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

After the Lightning opened last season with no fans in the stands, Thursday’s game was an encouraging sign that the fan experience is getting back to what it was pre-pandemic. The “Thunderstruck” kid was back on the ice before the game, and there was a brief youth game during the first intermission. The tradition of bubble ball returned in the second intermission. Fans weren’t allowed anywhere near the ice last season.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieintheYard.

• • •

The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge