Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers (10-11-2) play the second game of their Florida road trip, this one against the Tampa Bay Lightning (15-8-2). The game is at 7:30 and will be televised on CSN Philly. The Flyers hope to climb back to a .500 record with a win tonight.
The Flyers are coming off of a tough loss to the Florida Panthers. After the game Scott Hartnell said that the Flyers flat out underestimated the Panthers. This is troubling for a few reasons. Through an 82 game season, there is a small margin for error if a team wants to make the playoffs. However, when a team starts the season 1-7, that margin for error evaporates. The Flyers cannot afford to overlook anyone if they want to climb back into the playoff picture. We can only hope that they learned their lesson Monday night.
Tampa Bay is not a team to be overlooked. They currently sit 2nd in the Eastern Conference with 31 points. They score an average of three goals per game and have a very potent offense. The Lightning are coming off of a 5-0 whipping of the NY Rangers and will be brimming with confidence.
-Per the Flyers beat writers, Ben Bishop suffered a hand injury during the morning skate and will not start against the Flyers. Apparently, back-up goaltender Anders Lindback was scheduled to start even before the injury to Bishop.
-Ray Emery will get the start tonight for the Flyers.
-Michael Raffl will return to the Flyers line-up for the first time since November 9th. It is unknown at this time who he will replace, but Jay Rosehill would be the most logical choice.
Things to look for:
-Goalies: Ben Bishop has blossomed into a star this season. His .931 SV% through 19 games is sixth among goalies who have played at least 15 games. His GAA of 2.08 is equally as impressive. The Flyers will face Anders Lindback. Lindback is 1-5 with a SV% of .872 and a GAA of 3.47 this season. Ray Emery will start for the Flyers. Emery is 3-3 this season with a SV% of .910 and a GAA of 2.53. In his last four starts Emery has gone 3-1 and has only allowed four total goals.
-Injuries: On November 11th, in a matinee against the Boston Bruins, Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos left the game with a broken leg. He has missed the last seven games. Stamkos had 14 goals through 17 games before the injury. In his absence, team captain Martin St. Louis has picked up the slack scoring three goals and adding five assists for eight points in seven games. He topped it off with a two goal performance Monday against the Rangers. The Lightning may be without two of their best players tonight, Stamkos and Bishop, but they are still a formidable opponent.
-Home Ice Advantage: The Lightning come into tonight’s game with one of the best home records in the league, 9-2. The Flyers are an average 4-4-2 on the road. The Lightning have not lost at home since October 19th and are 6-0 on home ice since then. Not only do the Lightning win at home, they dominate in their building. They have outscored their opponents 21-7 in the last five home games.
-Homecoming: The biggest story line going into tonight’s game is the return of Vincent Lecavalier to Tampa Bay. Lecavalier has been a huge help to the Flyers this season. Lecavalier was the face of the franchise is Tampa Bay for his 14 years there. All eyes will be on the former Lightning captain when he steps on the ice to face his former team.
Tonight’s game could go either way. When looking at the goaltending matchup it is not hard to like the Flyers chances. However, with Tampa’s home record and the recent play of Martin St. Louis that optimism quickly fades. In the end, the Flyers will have to go out and give it a sixty minute effort just like every other night if they want to come back home for Thanksgiving with a victory.