St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Lightning

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Coaches watching preseason closely

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 20, 2002

ATLANTA -- The scrimmages are over. Now the real work begins.

The Lightning starts its nine-game preseason schedule tonight at Philips Arena against the Thrashers with jobs on the line -- and coaches and management watching closely.

"The exhibition season," coach John Tortorella said Thursday, "is when you make it or fall by the wayside."

Getting the most looks will be center Alexander Svitov and goaltender Kevin Hodson.

"We want to see all of the guys," general manager Jay Feaster said, "but there is an extra focus there."

Svitov, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2001 draft, has shown a sizzling wrist shot, great strength, good positioning and a willingness to play defense.

Tortorella wants to see a little of Svitov's well-known edge.

"He's not going to stir things up with his teammates," Tortorella said. "I want to see him play an exhibition game. Alex has worked hard."

"This is when it counts," said Hodson, who is fighting to be Nikolai Khabibulin's backup. "These are the games you use as a benchmark. I'm excited about it. I've been waiting a long time for a chance like this. You've got to run with it."

Others playing tonight with similar sentiments include defensemen Mathieu Biron and Harlan Pratt, center Jean-Francois Soucy, left wing Ryan Tobler and right wing Matt Elich.

ROSTER: In a preseason game lineup teams must have at least 10 who have played at least 30 NHL games the previous season.

Tonight's Lightning players: goaltenders Hodson and Evgeny Konstantinov; defensemen Biron, Dan Boyle, Stan Neckar, Harlan Pratt, Nolan Pratt and Cory Sarich; and forwards Elich, Svitov, Tobler, Soucy, Ben Clymer, Chris Dingman, Sheldon Keefe, Fredrik Modin, Jimmie Olvestad, Vinny Prospal, Andre Roy and Tim Taylor.

BROTHER ACT: The Lightning has never had brothers play for it in the same game, but Tortorella said he might pair Nolan, 27, and Harlan Pratt, 23, on defense.

FINAL SCRIMMAGES: The Red team tied the Black at three on Ruslan Fedotenko's goal with 1:30 remaining. Fedotenko had two goals assisted by Vinny Lecavalier. ... The Black won the scrimmage championship at 4-1-1. The Red finished second at 3-2-1. ... Tobler had two goals and center Brad Richards had a goal and an assist in the White's 7-1 win over the Blue. ... Richards (five goals, seven assists) and Roy (two goals, 10 assists) led all scorers with 12 points. ... Hodson stopped 25 of 28 shots for the Red and finished with an .862 save percentage. ... Khabibulin was first among the goalies with a .900 save percentage.

RUBBING IT IN: The Black team taunted the Red after winning, crowding together and holding up index fingers as if posing for a championship picture.

"It's just a silly thing the guys like to do to rub it into the other team," said the Black's Keefe.

ODDS AND ENDS: Defenseman Darren Rumble missed practice with a strained groin. He is day to day. ... Tortorella said he will cut on Sunday "seven or eight" of the 40 players in camp.

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