September 25 2010 05:49PM
Well Calgary's rolling out about a 65-percent decent roster up front and a bunch of kids (plus Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich) on the blue line, in front of Kiprusoff. That's the bad news.
The worse news, though, is that Tampa's icing what appears to be a full lineup, minus their goaltender. All the big names are there: Gagne, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Malone, and a couple others up front. On the blue line you have Ohlund, Hedman, Clark, Kubina, Lundin and Roy for vets. In net they're rolling out Cedrick Desjardins, who's been fairly impressive in camp from all accounts and is highly regarded as the franchise's Goalie of the Future (absent, of course, a better-than-average Goalie of the Present Or Indeed Since Khabibulin Left Town).
Because of those two rosters, there's not much reason to expect a decent performance from the team tonight. What you're really going to want to watch is the guys competing for roster spots.
As Pat noted earlier, there are a couple guys — like Craig Conroy and Greg Nemisz — who probably aren't guaranteed anything in the way of a roster space on the team for the time being. In Conroy's case he's fighting to hold onto to one last chance at the big show. Given that he signed a two-way deal, he knows nothing is guaranteed, and needs to straight-arm a couple young up-and-comers (though admittedly the injury to Matt Stajan all but guarantees him a spot in the near future).
And Nemisz presents an interesting study as well. People thought he'd have a decent shot at developing into a player that could contribute regularly at the NHL level, but here we are two summers after he was drafted and he's probably headed to the farm after underwhelming rookie and main camp performances.
The only other bubble guy, if you really want to stretch the definition, is Staffan Kronwall, but the window of opportunity for him to make it in Calgary is closing faster than the Lightning power play will need to score for the first time tonight (I mean, really, a top unit of Gagne-Lecavalier-St. Louis with Stamkos-Hedman? That's not even fair). If he doesn't do something that would make it worth Darryl Sutter's while to keep him around, and soon, he's going straight to Abbotsford, one-way contract or no.
And if you're really straining for something to keep an eye on tonight, you might wanna monitor Mikael Backlund's performance against top-quality defenders, since he'll get a majority of his minutes against guys like Hedman and Ohlund.
But as for the result tonight? Well, I just hope you didn't buy tickets.