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Philadelphia Flyers “at” Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: one game for “home ice” advantage

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Time to close out the Round Robin in style.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Feb 15, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77), defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) , left wing Pat Maroon (14) and teammates celebrate as they beat the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena. Saturday blacks!
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers “@” Tampa Bay Lightning: Round Robin Game 3
Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NBC, SN1, SN360, TVAS, NHL.TV
Opponent SB Nation Site: Broad Street Hockey
Preview:

In terms of pre-playoff hockey...

It’s simple, if the Tampa Bay Lightning win this game in any scenario, they’ll earn the first seed in the Eastern Conference and will have “home ice advantage” (mostly just last change) throughout the playoffs. They’ll also play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

If the Lightning lose this game, they’ll be the second seed and will face either the Toronto Maple Leafs, who completed a 3-0 comeback in the final four minutes of Game 4 to push Game 5, or the Columbus Blue Jackets, who completed a 3-0 comeback over the Leafs in Game 3. Both teams have a history with the Lightning, one was supposed to be their first-round opponent all along, the other ousted them in the first round last season. Neither are opponents you want to play if the Montreal Canadiens are also in the room.

TL;DR: there’s a lot at stake here!

Looking at the task at hand, the Flyers are a very good — and especially very hot — team right now. They have strengths at all three positions and they play you hard when they’re on. For one of the league’s most wild teams in terms of streaks in the regular season, they really seem to have figured it out for this quick tournament. They won’t be easy to beat. What will be important is to get ahead against the Couturier line (though it’ll be very hard to do), then hope the second line can provide some offense, and then hopefully the third line can shut down their second line. That’s what the matchups look like they’re going to be.

Lightning Lines

Here is what the Lightning ran in practice, they were without Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon, and Jan Rutta on the ice. Status is still unknown for Maroon and Rutta, but Stamkos will miss the game, so those will most likely be the forward lines (likely with Verhaeghe out for Maroon if he’s good to go). Andrei Vasilevskiy will start.

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Cedric Paquette - Mitchell Stephens - Carter Verhaeghe
Potentially in: Pat Maroon
Scratched: Alex Volkov, Mathieu Joseph

Defense

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy - Starting
Curtis McElhinney


Flyers Lines

Here are the lines from the Flyers NHL.com guy. With JVR back in the lineup, this team is three lines deep with a very capable fourth line similar to that of the Bolts. Couturier is going to be the shutdown guy for the Point line. Offense is going to need to come from everyone else just to be safe. As for their defense, it looks very deep. I like every player in that group, and as a Toronto native, I am very jealous. Carter Hart in net has been one of the best goalies in the league.

Forwards

Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk - Derek Grant - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman - Nate Thompson - Tyler Pitlick

Defense

Ivan Provorov - Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim - Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere - Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott