Nashville More Than a Preseason Game Site for the Lightning

Do not let anyone tell you that the hockey world does not have a close-knit community. When Hurricane Ian threatened the state of Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed to find a place to continue their training camp. After their first preseason game on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricane, the Lightning was welcomed in Nashville to continue their training camp.

With a regularly scheduled game on Friday night, another preseason game was added on Thursday night, as the Lightning were forced to cancel their scheduled home games against the Predators and Hurricanes and other activities that were scheduled to coordinate with the Lightning’s 30th-anniversary celebration.

Nashville With the Big Assist

It was no small feat to have a team change plans for their scheduled games and assist a team that needed to be temporarily located. The Predators are in the midst of plans to play two games of the 2022-23 regular season against the San Jose Sharks in Prague, Czechia, on Oct. 7-8, and were departing for these games after Friday night’s game against the Lightning. Through all of this, they also assisted the Lightning in continuing their training camp.

A stroke of fortunate planning allowed me to witness this firsthand. A planned trip to visit family in the midwest allowed us to stop in Nashville this week, at the same time the Lighting came to town. Attempting to find a Predator staff member to talk about this situation proved somewhat difficult. Arriving early at the arena before the preseason games, not a lot of the staff said much about the situation. It’s not that this was a top-secret event; it was just that group of people who saw this nice gesture as not a big deal to them.

It was a big deal to the Lightning. Forward Zach Bogosian told the press that, “For Nashville to open up their facilities for us was obviously super generous of them, and you know, I’m sure if roles were reverse, we would do the same for them and a lot of other organizations as well,” He also added, “But in tough times like this, hockey is such a small world. You know, we’re a close-knit community.”

Zach Bogosian Tampa Bay Lightning
Zach Bogosian, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images)

What is known was that each player was allowed to bring any family members that would otherwise be left in the path of the storm. This allowed some family time in a situation that Bogasian described as “something like a vacation, with the kids having fun swimming at the hotel.” The Predators also opened up their home ice at Bridgestone Arena, so that the team could continue their training camp practices.

The Nashville Predators Foundation also held a charity auction benefiting the victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida. People were able to bid on Predators and Lightning jerseys and a trip to see the Preds play the Lightning in Tampa on Dec. 8, 2022. Southern hospitality at its finest.

Lightning Struggling in Preseason

Through all this, the Lightning played three preseason games this week, losing all of them and managing to score only one goal. In fact, they did not score until Brandon Hagel scored at the 4:11 mark of the third period of the third preseason game. Not that it matters much to the Lightning, a team that treats the preseason as part of their tune-up for the regular season, sentiments that head coach Jon Cooper echoed after Thursday’s loss. “I’m not so worried about the puck not going in the net. They didn’t go in tonight, but if you’re going to pick a game for them not to go in, preseason’s the one. It serves its purpose, and it’s good for us.”

Brandon Hagel Tampa Bay Lightning
Brandon Hagel, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

The biggest disappointment from the three losses, especially Friday night’s 7-1 thumping, was that none of the players on the bubble did anything to make their case for being included in the opening-night roster. Cole Koepke appears to be a frontrunner for a roster spot. While he has not played outstanding during this time, he hasn’t done anything to hurt his case and has shown his flexibility by playing on both special teams’ units. The young Lightning made plenty of mistakes Friday night, which included Nick Perbix backtracked too far in his own zone, allowing Matt Duchene to score the fourth Predator goal of the night. It was quite apparent that the young Lightning were a step slower and a second slower to react when the Predator regulars were on the ice.

Related: 3 Observations From Lightning’s 2022 Training Camp

All in all, however, this week was really not about how well the Lightning played in the preseason games. The real story is how the Predators and the hockey community reached out to a team in need and gave them, and possibly those recovering from Hurricane Ian, needed relief from what took place this week.

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