Flyers Bolt To Tampa, Versteeg To Play
With the Lightning breathing down the Flyers necks, the Flyers could pull six points a head of the Lightning giving them some breathing room. A loss tonight would put the Bolts just two points behind the conference leading Flyers, a four point swing from a possible Flyers win.
The Flyers are 3-2 with book-end shutouts by the Lightning and the Kings in their last five games, netting just eight goals during that stretch. Those shutouts moved the Flyers out of the top spot for goals per game to third behind Vancouver and Detroit respectively.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are also 3-2 in their last five and are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Hurricanes.
The Philadelphia Flyers will have a real tough challenge tonight and will have their hands full as the Tampa Bay Lightning are 13-4 in their last seventeen home games.
A surprise team this season, Tampa is sporting the NHL's leading point getter , Steven Stamkos, he has 79 points and forty goals as he challenges for the league MVP along the way. Dwayne Roloson has been good for the Bolts as he picked up four shutouts since coming over in a trade from the Islanders, he has two of those shutouts in his last five starts.
That being said the Flyers must look at tonight's game as a must win, you don't want to enter the playoffs and have to face this team who mentally knows they can beat you. The Flyers need to inject doubt into the Lightning's head.
They will do that tonight with a new weapon in their arsenal. With the Flyers and Paul Holmgren always looking to improve this team he pulled of a much rumored trade with Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Burke sent 24 year old Kris Versteeg to the Flyers for this years first and third round picks, adding to the Flyers depth at forward making them a much deeper team. Versteeg, wearing number 10 for the Flyers will add some more grit to this team and is able to play an all around game including special teams.
You can read more here by Mark Trible Hopefully with the addition of his 14 goals and 21 assists he can help bang in some of those loose pucks around the net.
With the Flyers long history of new comers scoring on their debut game, I will predict that Versteeg will get his first goal as a Flyer tonight in Tampa.
It will be interesting to see how Laviolette uses Versteeg tonight and who will be his line mates. One line configuration had him with Richards and JVR, one thing is for certain he will be on a line with much better players here in Philly, even if he winds up on the third line.
With him being in the lineup tonight look for Zherdev and Carcillo or Shelley to be healthy scratches for tonight's game. The Flyers need to get traffic in front of the net tonight, something they have been struggling to do the past couple of games and it has cost them.
They will have to find a way to contain Stamkos as he has become a Flyers killer since entering the league. The Flyers need to interrupt the Bolts speedy rushes up the ice tonight and will need to use their body more to accomplish that. The defense needs to tighten up tonight and keep everything to the outside shutting the middle down.
Step Up Players
Versteeg (for my prediction of a goal)