Better With Popcorn

Flyers Homestand Continues with the Lightning

The Matchup:

Philadelphia Flyers (3-6-0) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (6-2-0)
Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, Pa.
7:30 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet and 97.5 FM The Fanatic

Setting the Stage:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are 7-1-1 in their last 9 games against the Philadelphia Flyers—an alarming trend that must end. The Tampa Bay Times Forum continued to be a house of horrors for the Flyers after a 5-1 loss on January 27. The matchup does not favor the Flyers, but they can treat this game as a carte blanche to begin another winning streak and get back on the right track.

Vincent Lecavalier suffered an bone bruise, labeling him as day-to-day. He will suit up for the Lightning tonight. Wayne Simmonds will not play for the Flyers after suffering a concussion last Friday.

What to Expect:

It was no secret. The Lightning's pressure on the forecheck and their attention to detail on the physical side of the game frustrated the Flyers. Three goals in the first period put the game quickly out of reach. If the Flyers want to change this alarming trend of losing against the Lightning, they will need a great goaltending performance. The Lightning score a shade under five goals per game. That mark ranks better than St. Louis by over a goal per game (3.75 per game). The Flyers sit in 25th at 2.55 per game.

The red light will be busy tonight, whether it sides with Tampa Bay or the Flyers. It might not be a track meet, but offensive chances will abound tonight. The oohs and ahhs will be out in full force at the Wells Fargo Center tonight.

The Masked Men:

It will not be a rematch in the cage with the two netminders this time around. Ilya Bryzgalov (3-5-0, .920, 2.48) will get the start for the Flyers. Bryzgalov comes off of a stellar 39 save effort in the victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The veteran netminder has turned the corner this season after a beleaguered first year in the orange and black.

Anders Lindback (5-1-0, .911, 2.83) will start for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lindback has won his last four starts, including the victory over the Flyers. The Swede has given up just six goals in his last three games, half of them coming against the Winnipeg Jets on February 1.

Keys to the Game:

The Power Play. This key goes both ways. The Tampa Bay power play (36.1%, 1st in NHL) is lethal, featuring Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and the newcomer Cory Conacher. They scored two power play goals against the Flyers back on January 27. The Lightning PP faces the struggling Flyers PK (73.8%, 24th in NHL), which must improve to pick up the win. The Flyers PP (18.6%, 16th in NHL) scored three power play goals in the victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, and it won't have an easy task against an impressive Lightning PK (83.3%, 10th in NHL).

Tye McGinn. McGinn scored his first NHL goal and added an assist against the Florida Panthers on January 26. He also added an assist in the loss to the Washington Capitals last Friday. McGinn's solid play earned him the right to play on the top line with captain Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. The 6'2, 205 lb winger will add size and net presence on a smaller line. 

Get the shots through. The Lightning blocked 26 shots when these two teams last tussled. The Flyers only managed to get 21 shots through in that game. However, looking at the stats, the Lightning only blocked 8 shots against the Rangers, 15 against the Jets, and 10 against the Panthers. 26 seems like an anomaly at this point. A smarter shot selection might clinch the win.

Quotable:

"We were way too soft on the battles, we weren't moving our legs...nothing really to help us win games. We have to change that mindset [tonight]."

- Danny Briere on the 5-1 loss on January 27.