Let’s face it; this one was ugly. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s first preseason game on home ice turned into a rout at the hands of the Nashville Predators.
The 6-2 defeat came on a night when the Lightning brought a few more of their NHL regulars back into action. The handful of regulars combined with several young players looking to impress a lead to a team out of sync on the ice. Fortunately, that doesn’t really matter.
So, what are some observations about the Lightning in the future after Thursday night’s thumping?
1. Cirelli left the game in the second period with an apparent injury.
Anthony Cirelli left the contest in the second period and did not return for the remainder of the game. The one thing you absolutely do not want in relatively meaningless preseason games is injuries. Cirelli’s not returning to the game was likely out of precaution but will be something worth following over the next few days. With well over a week until opening night, Cirelli should fully be expected to be in the lineup.
2. Cirelli getting regular Powerplay work?
Okay yeah, Cirelli again. A player known for his defensive abilities, Cirelli has had limited chances to get action on the powerplay over the years. He typically comes in among the highest in time on ice among Lightning forwards because of his ability to play in all situations. Cirelli scored the Lightning’s opening goal on the powerplay with a snapshot from the right circle in the first period. Sure, the Lightning did not have their full team on the ice, but it will be interesting to see if Cirelli can amass even more ice time by jumping in more frequently on the powerplay.
3. Getting outplayed
Nashville thoroughly outplayed the Lightning throughout the contest. They won more puck battles, played more urgently, and played a cleaner game than the Lightning. Tampa Bay was disjointed from the get-go. Veterans and those scraping for a spot on the team were simply not on the same page, and the scoreboard showed. No need to panic. This will never be the norm for this team.
4. Raddysh looking to make the jump
Taylor Raddysh has been a pretty highly regarded prospect within the Lightning system for a while now. The second-round pick from 2016 has yet to make his debut in the NHL, and this offseason has been seen as almost a make-or-break period for him. After playing in the AHL the last three seasons, Raddysh will be a top candidate to land on the Lightning roster to begin the season. He led all Lightning forwards in ice time on Thursday. Clearly, this coaching staff wants him to gain some experience and prove he belongs.
5. Elliot may need a little time
Brian Elliot’s Lightning preseason debut did not go particularly ideally. Elliot played the first 30 minutes of the contest and allowed three goals on just 14 shots. The veteran netminder will need more action to get comfortable to start the season, especially with his new club. Elliot has started over 500 games across 14 NHL seasons and knows his role with this club. It is not his first rodeo. He will likely not see very regular action in the Lightning crease, but hopefully, with more reps, he can be somebody counted on to spell Vasilevskiy periodically.