Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, TVAS, SNE, SNO, SNP, NBCSP
Opponent SBNation Site: Broad Street Hockey
We’ve pretty much hammered home the point that it’s going to take a team effort to keep the winning momentum going with Brayden Point, Erik Cernak, and Nikita Kucherov out of the line-up for the Tampa Bay Lightning. So, there is no need to belabor the point other than to say it’s an excellent opportunity for some of the players to step forward and make a name for themselves.
The best thing going for the Lightning as they try and figure things out on the offensive side, is that they have a pretty useful safety net keeping pucks out of the net in Andrei Vasilevskiy. Strong goaltending can mask an awful lot of problems for a team and the Bolts have one of the best.
According to Natural Stat Trick, over his last nine games (which line up with the points streak the Lightning had going) he allowed fewer goals than expected in seven of them. The two that he didn’t just happened to be the most recent two (the shootout win against Philly and the loss to New Jersey). So it was probably good that he picked up that extra day of rest by not playing against Minnesota.
One of the noticeable traits that he’s displayed this season, at least to the ol’ eye test, is how calm he’s been in net. Not just mentally, but also physically. His positioning has been great and there seems to be little wasted motion on his part. That’s really helped him not only control rebounds but to be in position to make that second or third save. He no longer has to rely just on his instincts and incredible athleticism to make stops because he’s in the right spot to turn them aside in the first place.
Along with the solid goaltending it will also help if the Lightning can manage to keep their power play going. Yes, it’s going to be tough with two of the biggest components (Point and Kucherov) out, but a power-play goal on Sunday showed that it can be done. While we have lamented their special teams play for the majority of the season it hasn’t been that bad recently.
During their 11-game run of success they are converting at a better-than-average 24.2%, which is ninth in the league over that period of time. That’s a vast improvement over the 16.2% success rate they had prior. So, it appeared they were figuring things out right before Point exited the stage. If we are trying to stay positive, his skills on the power play, once the team is in the zone, are slightly easier to replace than Kucherov’s (whose are pretty much irreplaceable). We’ll have to see how Coach Cooper and his staff choose to go about it, but they’ll have a tough time against a Flyers team that is 10th in the league with an 83.3% success rate shorthanded.
The Flyers aren’t sending the Lightning any sympathy cards for their injured players. After all, they have line-up issues of their own. Their big defensive free-agent signing, Ryan Ellis, has appeared in a grand total of four games, the last being on November 13th. Just recently, forward Kevin Hayes returned from abdominal surgery, but apparently he re-aggravated the injury and is out on a week-to-week basis.
They’ve played one game since losing to the Lightning last week, a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Martin Jones was in net for the loss so expect Carter Hart to be back between the pipes for the Flyers. He’s been steady enough in net to keep the team in the game until the offense pieces together an important goal or two.
Having to play Derick Brassard on the second line shows how thing their offense has been down the middle, but they still have a couple of elite scorers. Remember it was just the other day that Claude Giroux did this to Andrei Vasilevskiy:
It’s not often that Vasy gets deked that bad on a play.
Expect another hard-fought, close match as the two teams continue to struggle to put together consistent offense.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Mathieu Joseph
Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Alex Barre-Boulet
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
The combinations and lines are based on last game. There is a better than zero chance that things will be mixed up during the morning skate. If we get anything definite, we will update.
Philadelphia Flyers Lines
Joel Farabee - Sean Couturier - James van Riemsdyk
Claude Giroux - Derick Brassard - Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom - Scott Laughton - Travis Konecny
Max Willman - Nate Thopmson - Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov - Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle - Nick Seeler