NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Flyers (3-6-0) vs Lightning (6-2-0), 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Revenge could very well be on the menu come Tuesday night.
After getting back into the win column against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, the Philadelphia Flyers will host the red hot Tampa Bay Lightning. During the last meeting between these two teams on January 27th, the Lightning absolutely controlled the Flyers, resulting in a 5-1 victory for Tampa Bay. Michael Leighton was in the net for the Flyers that night. While he certainly struggled, the guys in front of him didn’t give him much help. The game saw lazy back-checking, ugly special teams (shocking) and a lack of winning puck battles.
As for the Lightning, the offense ran through veteran Martin St. Louis, as he posted four assists in the contest. Steven Stamkos went on two tally one goal and on assist. Philadelphia’s defense needs to be ready each and every night, but especially against the Lightning, who are averaging 4.88 goals per game (leads league). These two guys alone can give opposing defenses a headache, but the Flyers need to focus on rookie Cory Conacher as well. Conacher has given this offense a tremendous boost (5G, 7A). Keep an eye on this kid, as he will very well be a finalist for this year’s Calder Trophy.
Between the Pipes
For the Flyers, it’ll again be Ilya Bryzgalov. And why shouldn’t it be? He has been arguably the best goaltender in hockey this season, despite his record. Imagine if the team gets it together and helps him out! Bryzgalov has been the MVP for the Flyers this year and will have to be extremely sharp against the best offense in hockey.
Anders Lindback will get the nod for Tampa Bay. Lindback has been extremely solid for the Lightning this season, posting a GAA of 2.84 and a SV% of .911. He has surely benefited from the scoring outbursts the Lightning have had this season. Back in Januray, Lindback stopped 24 of 25 shots against these Flyers.
Keys to Win
- Don’t let TB gain control: Although the Flyers defeated Carolina on Saturday night, they were out-shot 42-24. That cannot happen against the powerhouse that is the Lightning. Guys like Stamkos and St. Louis will make no mistakes if given a plethora of opportunities to score. Philadelphia cannot afford to let the Lightning get set up frequently in their zone or else Bryzgalov will be in for a busy night.
- Build off recent PP success: In their win against Carolina, the Flyers went 3-3 on the man advantage. Hallelujah! Their goals didn’t come off cute, extra passes. Instead, they were shots fired towards the opposing goaltender and one goal came from the dirty area. Keep that mindset. Those dirty goals tend to result in clean victories, something that Philadelphia needs right about now.
- Take care of the puck: Take care of the puck, take care of the puck, take care of the puck! Did I mention take care of the puck? The last few games, the Flyers have been very careless, creating costly turnovers that have lead to scoring chances or goals. I cannot stress enough how important puck security is, especially against Tampa Bay.
Wayne Simmonds will continue to be sidelined with a concussion. There is no timetable for his return. Rookie Tye McGinn will likely continue playing on the top line in his absence.
Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier is nursing a sore left foot after being struck by a shot from teammate Sami Salo. As of right now, he is questionable for Tuesday night.
Former Flyer Matt Carle will make his return to Philadelphia. Whether or not you liked him, Flyers fans, you know you miss him. Come on, just admit it.