Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, SNE, SNO, SNP
Opponent SBNation Site: Broad Street Hockey
Tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers is a quick road trip in the middle of a long stretch of home games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Entering this matchup, the Lightning are still running their point streak, which was extended to eight games after beating the New York Islanders on Monday. Since the beginning of November the team is fourth in the league in point percentage and second in the Atlantic division, trailing only to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bolts are also one of the three teams, which didn’t suffer a regulation loss during this month.
The biggest question of tonight’s game is the availability of Anthony Cirelli. The Lightning forward took a puck in the face and left the game in the third period against the Isles on Monday. On Tuesday Cirelli had a body maintenance day, but Jon Cooper hopes that he will be ready for the game against the Flyers. Despite this injury it was a huge game for Cirelli: he was involved in a serious fight with the Isles’ Brock Nelson, received a five-minute fighting major and 10-minute misconduct penalty, but more importantly scored a game-winning goal.
Cirelli’s absence could be significant for the Lightning, as it seemed like the coaching staff had finally found a proper replacement for Nikita Kucherov on the top line. The Palat-Point-Cirelli line has been one of the most impressing Lightning’s lines so far this season, recording an elite 64.6 xGF% at five-on-five according to Moneypuck.com.
Cirelli’s presence on that top line also boosted the production of his linemates Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point. Since the beginning of November Point has recorded seven points in six games, while Palat had five points in the same amount of games. Point has especially found his groove after a relatively slow start of the season, scoring two game-winning goals in November and demonstrating his well-known clutching side of the game.
Tonight’s game will be also a return for Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott to Philadelphia, where he spent four previous seasons. He, however, won’t be able to start against his former team as Jon Cooper already confirmed that Andrei Vasilevskiy will lead the Bolts onto the ice at Wells Fargo Center. Apart from a game-time decision on Cirelli, no big changes are expected for the game against the Flyers. Erik Cernak is at least one week away from being ready according to Jon Cooper and the coaching staff, but they are seemingly satisfied with both Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk. They didn’t play that much on Monday, but had a solid, physical game, combining for 11 hits with their center Ross Colton.
The Flyers have been swinging between ups and downs for almost three weeks now, not being able to win two games in a row. The good news for the Lightning is that the Flyers won their previous game and should drop tonight’s matchup according to this logic.
The victory in the previous game was, however, achieved in a game against a very strong Calgary Flames, which could probably boost their confidence ahead of this evening. The Flyers are currently fourth in the Metropolitan division with 18 points in 14 games. They’re already five points behind the third place in the division, although they still have two games in hand.
Ryan Ellis won’t help his team tonight as the Flyers defenceman suffered a re-injury last weekend and is considered week-to-week. Ellis, who was acquired from the Nashville Predators last summer, was supposed to become the Flyers’ top right-handed defenceman, but appeared in just four games so far this season. Oskar Lindblom, who was a healthy scratch in the previous game, expected to slot back into the lineup, replacing Patrick Brown, who has a dislocated thumb.
The Lightning will play twice against the Flyers in the next six days, as they will pay a return visit to Amalie Arena next Tuesday.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
(based on the previous game)
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Anthony Cirelli
Alex Killorn — Steven Stamkos — Mathieu Joseph
Patrick Maroon — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Corey Perry
Taylor Raddysh — Ross Colton — Boris Katchouk
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev — Cal Foote
Philadelphia Flyers Lines
(based on the previous game)
Claude Giroux — Sean Couturier — James van Riemsdyk
Joel Farabee — Kevin Hayes — Cam Atkinson
Derick Brassard — Scott Laughton — Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom — Nate Thompson — Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov — Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim — Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle — Nick Seeler