PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 14: Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers is hit by Vincent Lecavalier #4 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center on October 14 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The Lightning defeated the Flyers 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
For whatever reason, the sports gods seem to enjoy pitting Tampa Bay's professional sports teams against those of Philadelphia in postseason competition. As a result, while Philly fans may not feel the same (what with having their hands full with New York...and seemingly every other city in the world, for that matter), Tampa Bay fans have come to view these matchups as a rivalry.
For Lightning fans, these seeds were planted way back in 1996 when they faced the Flyers in the Lightning's first ever playoff appearance. Naturally, the Flyers were the opponent when the Bolts made it to the conference finals in 2004. Who else could it have been?
This year's first meeting, coming as it does on November, doesn't have the postseason life-or-death importance attached to it but that doesn't mean it's not shaping up as a big game.
The Lightning enter tonight with a record of 7-5-2 while Philadelphia comes in at 8-4-2. The Flyers have won three of their last four games, with the one loss coming in a shootout. They were last in action on Saturday when they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 9-2. The Flyers may get an additional boost if defenseman Chris Pronger is in the lineup tonight as expected. Pronger hasn't played since suffering an eye injury on October 24th against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For their part, the Lightning have heated up lately themselves. They've also won three of four including two in a row, both requiring dramatic comebacks (down 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks and 3-0 to the Florida Panthers). Steven Stamkos looks to maintain his own personal hot streak, having scored nine goals in his last nine games, highlighted by his hat trick in the Chicago game.
The Lightning are 4-1-0 at home so far this season while the Flyers are 4-1-0 on the road.
Something's gotta give.