Flyers Bolts Preview: Gagne's Return Home
The Flyers will welcome back a familiar face tonight when they play against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Simon Gagne will be playing at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time as a visitor.
Gagne will be welcomed with a video tribute on the big screen before the game by the organization and will undoubtely be greeted with an ovation from the fans.
He has had a great run as a Flyer and many fans were sad to see him leave and pissed when they saw the compensation the Flyers received in the trade. (See the injured Matt Walker and his 1.7mil cap hit.) Gagne is still adjusting to life in Florida on and off the rink.
If you would like to know what Simon says about his return to Philly and how he is adjusting to his new surroundings, Anthony San Filippo interviewed Gagne on the subject.SIMON SAYS.
Gagne will not be the only Flyer coming back for a reunion tonight. The Bolts also bring with them former Flyers Steve Downie and Randy Jones, both of these players have been removed from the team for a couple of years now and have faced the Flyers previously.
There are a couple Tampa Bay reunions that will happen tonight on the Flyers side of the rink. Andrej Meszaros and Matt Walker(injured) will be playing against their old team for the first time since they were traded to the Flyers during the off-season in separate deals. Meszaros is taking this like just another game. "The management and coaches all changed, so its not like I have hard feelings for them."
Look for Gagne to be wearing his NO.12 for the Bolts, thanks to a nice gesture by Ryan Malone. When traded to the Bolts Gagne said he would sport NO.21 because Ryan Malone wore NO.12. Malone gave up his number without compensation and has taken NO.6 for this season.
Here is a quote from Malone on why he gave his NO.12 to Gagne: "He's done great things with that number," Malone said. "And it was time for a change for myself, I thought, so it was no problem. I just said, with open arms, 'Come join the team.' "
Hockey players are one of a kind athletes in many ways. How many times have you read about jersey's being sold to players in other sports so the new guy can have the number he has had all his career? I often wondered why these athletes who get paid millions need the money,watches or whatever for the number on their back. It is a respect thing,nothing more, and hockey players respect one and other on and off the ice, and that's the way it should be in all sports.
The Flyers have an overall winning record against the Bolts. The Flyers are 39-24-8 overall, 18-10-7 at home and 21-14-1 in Tampa. The last time these two teams met was on March 2, 2010 in Tampa, the Flyers won that game 7-2.
The last time the Bolts won in Philly was on Nov.8,2008 by the score of 2-1. There have only been three hat tricks scored in their previous 71 meetings, they were all scored by John LeCLair.
There has been some trades between these two teams including the most recent, Meszaros to Philly for Gagne, and Walker to Philly for a draft pick. On Aug. 20,1997 the Flyers sent Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis to Tampa for 1998 1st rd pick(Gagne),1999 1st rd pick(Maxime Ouellet, 2000 1st rd (Justin Williams), 2001 1st rd (traded to Ottawa,Tim Gleason). Quite a hall considering the Flyers traded Chris Gratton and Mike Sillinger for Renberg and Daymond Langkow on Dec.12 1998 .
In The Nets
For the Flyers it will be Brian Boucher, he did not face the Lightning last year, but does have one career shutout against the. He will need to step it up tonight especially with Bob breathing down his neck.
The Lightning will go with Dan Ellis as they started Mike Smith against the Habs last night. Ellis has never faced the Flyers. The Flyers usually have trouble agianst goalies they face for the first time, let's hope that is not the case tonight.
On The Lookout
For the Flyers Claude Giroux is playing at a high level right now having scored two shorthanded goals in three games to start the season, one of which was the game winner against the Penguins in the first game of the season.
Jeff Carter has stepped it up with his two goals last game. The defense played better last game as Pronger was back in the lineup, look for them to only get better and contribute more on the power play. Mike Richards has been hot against the Bolts, in four games he has five goals and a total of 11pts.
The Lightning have Vincent Lecavalier, Gagne, Martin St.Louis and Steven Stamkos. Stamkos has been hot in his only two games against the Flyers last year, he has 3 goals and a total of 5 points.
Still waiting for that first real fight of the year ? Keep an eye out for a Carcillo vs. Downie matchup, it would make for a nice middle weight matchup between two loose canons.
The Flyers will need to match the speed of the Bolts tonight and limit the shots they give Tampa to the outside. They need to stay out of the penalty box and when needed the PK will have to play the way they have recently.
The PP has to be more productive and capitalize on their wide open oppurtunities ,too many open nets missed. They need to find a way to work Zherdev in to the PP as a sniper, he has the skills and we need them on the PP.
They will have to tightly check Stamkos, Lecavalier, Gagne and St.Louis and not allow them any space to operate.
Step Up Players
JVR, Meszaros, Leino