SUN Hockey Pool

Stars align for 'Peg game

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

WINNIPEG - There will be no shortage of star power hitting the ice when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at MTS Centre.

The Lightning, who faced the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at American Airlines Arena to open a stretch of four pre-season games over five days, are planning to dress captain Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, newcomer Simon Gagne and 2009 first rounder (29th overall)Carter Ashton, a young power forward who was born in Winnipeg but grew up mostly in Saskatoon.

Young Swede Victor Hedman, the second overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and Pavel Kubina will also see action on the back end.

As for the Blackhawks, you can count on Winnipegger and captain Jonathan Toews leading his team out onto the ice.

Toews, who captured the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2010, is fully healed from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain he suffered during the Stanley Cup final and is excited about suiting up for a game in his hometown, even if its a pre-season tilt.

The Blackhawks also plan to dress Winnipeg-born players Patrick Sharp and reigning Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith as well as Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa.

We certainly want to put on a good show for the people there, said Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. I know Jonathan wants to as well. Going back home, its an important game for him and although its pre-season, hes taking it seriously. Were going to be prepared to entertain the fans there.

Were looking for it, I can tell you that much.

In goal, look for veteran Marty Turco to make his Hawks debut as he begins the process of replacing Antti Niemi.

With our group, were a very young group still. We had a need for a bit of a veteran presence and Marty has been through all those pressure situations, said Bowman. At the goaltender position, its important to have that history of being the guy that was counted on. Hes had a lot of success in his career and hes a very good goaltender still. Hes not an old guy by any means, but hes old enough that hes seen a lot in his time and he fits in well with our group.

He has very good chemistry with our guys already. Its only been a week of camp, but its like hes been here a couple of years.

Another player who has been turning heads during training camp is Russian forward Igor Makarov, a 23-year-old who spent the past two seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Lightning endured a massive overhaul during the off-season, bringing in Steve Yzerman as the general manager and Guy Boucher as head coach.

Boucher was coaching the Hamilton Bulldogs last spring when they eliminated the Manitoba Moose in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

You know what, Im looking forward to it, said Boucher, when asked about his return. It was a great place to be in the playoffs and it was a great series. The people in the stands were great and Im expecting the same sort of thing. Were going to have some good players on the ice for them. Hopefully, we can put on a good show.

More than 12,600 tickets have been sold to the game that gets underway at 7:35 p.m.


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