The Lightning are coming off a huge win on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes to keep them within striking distance of the division lead. The win was great, but the reality of the situation is the Bolts need to get on a roll and string a few wins together to make up ground in the extremely tight Eastern Conference playoff race. They’ll try to do exactly that tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that is just two points ahead of them in the standings.
On Saturday the Lightning got it done with the youngsters. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat both scored their first career goals to help propel the Bolts to a 4-1 victory against Carolina, but Tampa Bay cannot rely on that every game. Those guys are still young and have a ton of upside, but they’re still learning the NHL game. Especially with Vincent Lecavalier out indefinitely, the Lightning will need consistent production from the likes of Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, who have been scoreless the past two games. The good news is depth-scorers Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson both tallied last game.
It appears tonight’s line-up will remain unchanged with Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Brian Lee and Marc-Andre Bergeron sitting out. The only expected change looks like in net, where Anders Lindback gets back between the pipes after Mathieu Garon continued his domination of the Hurricanes this season on Saturday. Lindback has been extremely strong of late and despite posting a 2-2-0 record in his past four starts, has not allowed more than two goals in any of those contests, including a .942 save percentage.
The Lightning and Flyers have split the season series, with each team winning on home ice. Tampa Bay won, 5-1, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 27. Back then the Lightning were on a roll and Philadelphia had back-up Michael Leighton in net. That is still the only game he has played this season. This will be a different game.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
Thing to Keep an Eye On: Youth pushing the vets. Maybe one of the best things about the success the young players for the Lightning are having is that they will push the vets to be better.
On the Rise: The line of Dana Tyrell, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. The former line-mates picked up where they left off last season in Norfolk and were the Lightning’s best line last game according to Guy Boucher. Boucher said they are relentless and play without fear. He also said that Tyrell, in his first NHL game since February 7, was the team’s best player on Saturday.
Flying North: As the Flyers arrived for their morning skate this morning it was funny to see all the familiar faces walking toward the visitor’s locker room. In all, five former Bolts now wear a Flyers uniform, including Kurtis Foster, Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko and Andrej Meszaros. Oddly enough, Game 7 hero, Fedotenko, will be honored tonight during the game.