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One more time, this time with feeling! Tampa Bay Lightning versus Philadelphia Flyers preview

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Monday's Lightning loss to the Flyers was disappointing. They can make up for it tonight... But will they?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Where:
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida | When: 7:30 PM EST
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: Fox Sports Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Broad Street Hockey, Orange and Black Pack

So what's the best way to go about talking about tonight's game: Writing a preview with a narrative aimed at the game scheduled for this evening and the circumstances of the moment or to write a recap of Monday's contest between the two clubs and then declare to the Lightning, "Don't do that again"?

The Flyers have not played since their 4-2 victory over the Lightning on Monday where they held Tampa Ba—Oh, to hell with it, let me cut to the chase: Don't let this again, Bolts!

The truth still stands that the Flyers are a surging club in the Eastern Conference standings. They're 3 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot; they're 4 behind the Detroit Red Wings who hold the higher wild card spot. Philly will be facing both clubs directly in the coming days (Detroit on the 15th and Pittsburgh on the 19th) which adds a degree of weight to tonight. Yet, weight for the moment exists in all games for teams outside of a playoff berth. Opportunity is receding as the number of games to be played dwindles to only a few.

Tampa Bay has 15 games left in the season. They also fell out of the top slot in the Atlantic Division last night (Boston went to overtime before falling to the Hurricanes) but 15 games is enough time to make up that difference. It's going to be a dog-fight to the end between the Bolts, Bruins and Panthers for the Atlantic Division title. I really wish there was a program to gauge strength-of-schedule like there is for the NFL... That's something for the coders and programmers to figure out though. Boston has Pacific and Central Division games left on the schedule while the Panthers schedule is Eastern Conference heavy with teams from both divisions. The Lightning schedule is a bit of a hybrid of this: There's a trip to come that goes through Dallas and Arizona, but besides that it's the Eastern Conference that dominates the club's remaining 15 games.

From morning (optional) skate today, assessments are that Erik Condra is back in the lineup tonight for the Lightning as well as defenseman Anton Stralman (but coach Jon Cooper stated that both players are game-time decisions). Stralman's absence from the Bruins game on Tuesday was a surprise (it also is what motivated the club to do an emergency recall of Luke Witkowski... who did not play and was sent back to Syracuse during game play that night.

It's likely going to be Ben Bishop versus Steve Mason as the contest of goaltenders (though it's notable the Flyers are playing their own back-to-back affair; they'll be going to Sunrise after the game to take on the Panthers). It is possible Michal Neuvirth gets tabbed to start tonight for Philly instead of Mason. Whoever does go between the pipes for the Flyers likely will see a better challenge from the Bolts than what Mason saw on Monday...? Tampa Bay's shot total was outright empty for much of the game. 18 total shots on goal just won't cut it. The fact the club scored twice on 18 shots tells you about the netminder they were facing.

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