WHERE: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EDT | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: NBC Sports Network (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Orange and Black Pack, Broad Street Hockey, The Orange Update
The Tampa Bay Lightning are out to win two in a row for the first time since mid February tonight, and also close out the current homestand at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They'll be heading to Canada over the next few days.
The question is, will they be heading up there with renewed vigor or more of the same inconsistency that's put the season in mire?
Winning cures all ills and watching Saturday's 4-1 victory over Carolina was refreshing for a demoralized fan base. For an evening, everything wasn't wrong., It wasn't perfect but it wasn't wrong either, and didn't leave fans self-loathing. Of course, local media decided to dump more cold water on it with the Tampa Bay Times continuing the "blow it up" narrative by suggesting Martin St. Louis could be traded. That should give you pause to think of how the season - and perhaps the direction of this team - is on a razor edge right now.
Thinking about stuff like that gets away from the fact the Lightning are six points out of the last playoffs spot in the Eastern Conference. Three wins and a few convenient losses by foes such as Carolina, the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders and tonight's opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ah, yes, the Flyers... The first team the Bolts has to leap-frog if they're truly going to show they are going to contend again. The Flyers season has been a mire of their own, with injuries and poor showings (but minus shenanigans on national TV, unless you count brawls with Pittsburgh). They sit two points ahead of the Lightning, in 11th place in the Eastern Conference... A scant four points with 19 games left to play.
For two teams competing as also-rans this season, this game has some weight to it if either squad is going to actually push for a playoff spot.
Anders Lindback starts in goal for the Lightning and Ilya Bryzgalov will be between the pipes for the Flyers. Much like the Lindback/Evgeni Nabokov matchup from last week, Lindy and Bryz are playing on-par with each other: Bryz has a 2.78 GAA and .899 save percentage (and a 13-12-1 record with a shutout) while Lindback has a 2.93 GAA and a .902 save percentage (9-7-1 record).
It's another game where the contest may just be how the teams play in front of the goalies. Like Thursday's matchup with the Islanders, the goaltending is statistically even. If the Bolts regress on their passing, their puck possession and overall defense, it'll be a long night (which already will be the case for any Lightning fan forced to watch this game on NBC Sports Net). Yet, if Tampa Bay comes out playing at the same level (or above) as they did on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes... Then it's safe to say they control their own destiny and the story of this season is not yet over.
Brian Lee, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Pierre-Cedric Labrie should be the healthy scratches for the Lightning, while line combos should remain the same from Saturday night.
Tickets -- Check Availability