The Tampa Bay Lightning headed home Thursday carrying the opening night roster.
Forwards Cory Conacher, the reigning MVP of the American Hockey League, and Cedric-Pierre Lebrie nabbed the only spots in question and will be on the 23-man roster when the team opens the season at home Saturday night against the Washington Capitals.
After four days of training camp at Germain Arena, Tampa Bay made its only round of cuts well ahead of Friday's 3 p.m. deadline to submit the roster.
Tampa Bay assigned forward Tyler Johnson and defensemen Mark Barberio and Radko Gudas to the AHL farm team, the Syracuse Crunch. Defenseman Matt Taormina and forwards Kyle Wilson, JT Wyman and Mike Angelidis were put on waivers Thursday with the intention of reassigning them to Syracuse if they clear by Friday at noon.
Tampa Bay will carry 13 forwards: Vinny Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone, Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt, Dana Tyrell, Adam Hall, Nate Thompson, B.J. Crombeen, Conacher and Labrie.
The roster also includes eight defensemen: Victor Hedman, Sam Salo, Eric Brewer, Matt Carle, Brian Lee, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Keith Aulie and Brendan Mikkelson.
The goaltenders are Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon.
Conacher looked to be a good fit working on a line with Lecavalier and Purcell throughout the week, as well as on the second power play unit.
"We feel he has done a lot in the American League already …and if you look at his year and half, he has continued to improve,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "I like his grit, I like his relentlessness and I always have, so he deserves it.''
Labrie brings elements the team lacked somewhat the past couple of years – size, physical play and a willingness to drop the gloves. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound forward is also popular with teammates, who refer to him as "Nacho'' in reference to film character Nacho Libre.
"Labrie has come from so far, such a character person and brings unbelievable intangibles,'' Boucher said. "He's a good hockey player, too, and not just a big guy. He can play, so we felt that he was bringing some of the things we were lacking.''
One team bonding activity the Lightning held this week was a beach volleyball tournament with players divided into teams of five and a round robin to set the seeding.
On Wednesday, the team of Stamkos, Lecavalier, Wyman, Salo and Pyatt defeated the team of St. Louis, Purcell, Mikkelson, Lindback and Garon, sweeping the best-of-three championship match. Stamkos posted a picture via his Twitter account shortly after the victory.
"This whole week has been really fun,'' Stamkos said. "It's a great experience and a great way for guys to get closer to each other and have some fun. We know when we come to the rink we have to work hard and everyone has done that, but just to be able to do some fun activities … was a great way to end off the week. I think guys really benefitted from that.''
In addition to the volleyball games and team dinners, there also were yoga sessions on the beach.
Stamkos and Malone participated in the special teams practice on Thursday, but left the ice and did not participate in the scrimmage. Both were held out to rest, not because of injury, Boucher said.
"Just making sure I'm fresh and ready to go for Saturday,'' Stamkos said.
Nuts and Bolts
Lecavalier scored the only goal in Thursday's scrimmage, beating Lindback on a breakaway after a nice flip pass from Conacher. …Friday's open practice at the Forum starts at 11:30 a.m. and will last about 45 minutes. Free lunch will be available on the plaza beginning at 11 a.m. …Taormina missed his third day of practice with an unspecified injury and is not expected to be available for Syracuse on Friday if he clears waivers.