Bill Meltzer: Flyers Gameday: 10/30/14 @ TB, Phantoms Lose in OT, Quick Hits

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PREVIEW: FLYERS @ LIGHTNING

The Philadelphia Flyers (4-3-2) will try win their fourth straight game as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-1) on the front end a two-game road trip through the Sunshine State. Game time is 7:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised locally on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia.

This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season, and the lone game in Tampa Bay.

The Flyers and Bolts will rematch in Philadelphia on December 16 and January 12.

After tonight’s game, the Flyers will travel to Sunrise, FL. On Saturday night, the team will take on the Florida Panthers. Thereafter, the Flyers return home for three games next week. The Lightning host the Washington Capitals on Saturday in the third game of Tampa’s current four-game homestand. 2013-14 season series in review

The Flyers have struggled mightily against Tampa Bay in recent years, especially on the road. Entering tonight’s game, the Flyers are winless in their last six road games in Tampa and have won just one of their last eight games against the Lightning overall.

In the 2013-14 season, Tampa swept the three-game season series against Philadelphia.

On November 27, 2013, a two-goal and three-point game for defenseman Victor Hedman spearheaded a 4-2 Tampa home win. Limited to 21 shots for the game, the Flyers nevertheless managed to cut a 3-0 deficit in the third period down to 3-2 before Tampa added an empty net goal. Mark Streit and Vincent Lecavalier (in his first game back in Tampa Bay following the local icon’s buyout by the Lightning) scored for the Flyers. Ray Emery stopped 31 of 34 shots in a losing cause.

The Flyers brought a 10-game home winning streak into their January 11, 2014 meeting with the Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center. They left with a 6-3 loss. Starting Flyers goaltender Steve Mason was replaced by Emery after Tampa scored five times on their first 17 shots. Former Flyers defenseman Matt Carle was a plus-six in this game with a pair of assists, while now-former Bolt Ryan Malone scored a pair of goals and Valterri Filppula notched one goal and one assist.

On April 11, 2014, host Tampa Bay scored three times in the final period to down the Flyers by a 4-2 count. Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Flyers rested some of their banged up defensive personnel in this game. Flyers outlook

The Flyers enter this game coming off a somewhat ugly 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Brayden Schenn scored the game-winning goal in both tilts. Michael Raffl scored three goals over the two games.

Emery will make his fourth straight start in goal tonight. At yesterday’s optional skate in Voorhees, NJ, Mason participated while Emery rested.

Lecavalier (left foot injury) also took part in the optional skate, pushing himself hard. Officially, a decision will be made today about his availability for the game against his former club. However, both Lecavalier and head coach Craig Berube said yesterday that Lecavalier needs to get in some practice time involving board battles and other game-condition simulations before he is ready to play. Lecavalier has been absent from the lineup for the last six games.

Jakub Voracek enters this game having registered points in eight of the nine games the Flyers have played this season. He leads the club in overall scoring with 13 points (two goals, 11 assists). Team captain Giroux is two points behind (two goals, nine assists) while Mark Streit (two goals, six assists) tops the defense corps in points.

Wayne Simmonds still co-leads the Flyers in goal scoring, with five tallies overall and three power play goals among his seven points. However, he is pointless in his last five games despite registering 16 shots on goal during that span. Raffl is now tied with Simmonds in goals.

The Flyers recalled defenseman Brandon Manning yesterday from the Adirondack Phantoms. Berube said there is a chance Manning could play in tonight’s game. If so, fellow callup Shayne Gostisbehere would be scratched. Additionally, both Jason Akeson and Blair Jones participated in the optional skate yesterday. Berube was noncommittal as to which player would be in the lineup against Tampa Bay.

Defensemen Braydon Coburn (left foot) and Andrew MacDonald (lower body) are expected to be out of the lineup until late November. Zac Rinaldo returned to the lineup on Tuesday after a one-game absence related to an upper-body injury. Lightning outlook

The Lightning got off to a fast start in October but played somewhat unevenly during a five-game road trip that nevertheless saw the team go 3-1-0 in western Canada before ending the trip with a clunker in Minnesota. On Saturday, Wild mauled Tampa by a 7-2 count.

Returning to Tampa to start a four-game homestand, the Bolts kicked things off with a 7-3 blowout win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Nikita Kucherov, who led all NHL players with six preseason goals and scored four in the last two games, recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career. Tampa newcomer Brian Boyle scored twice while Filppula and Carle notched one goal apiece. Tyler Johnson racked up four assists. Superstar forward Steven Stamkos chipped in one helper. Ben Bishop made 22 saves to earn the win in net.

Tampa is dealing with some key injuries at present but has shown off the much-improved depth that has catapulted the club into the Eastern Conference’s upper echelon over the last year or so. The club has 10 different players who have scored at least two goals through the first 10 games of the regular season.

Top defenseman Hedman, who was playing at a Norris Trophy caliber level to start the season is on injured reserve with a broken hand. Former New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is on IR with a lower-body injury but could return as soon as Saturday.

Johnson, who far and away tops the club in assists, currently leads the Bolts with 11 points (one goal, 11 assists). Stamkos leads in goals with six tallies (four on the power play) among his nine points. With Hedman (seven points in five games) shelved, newcomer Anton Stralman has taken over the blueline scoring lead with eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 10 games.

In goal, Bishop has posted a 2.31 goals against average, .913 save percentage and 5-1-1 record in seven starts and eight appearances. Veteran Evgeni Nabokov has made three starts, winning two and getting pulled in the Minnesota game after yielding four goals on eight shots in 17:15 of play. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)

Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 3.22 (7th), Lightning 3.40 (4th)

Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 3.33 (24th), Lightning 2.50 (12th)

Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.78 (23rd), Lightning 1.21 (T-13th)

Power play efficiency: Flyers 24.2% (T-7th), Lightning 24.3% (6th)

Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 79.2% (22nd), Lightning 86.3% (7th)

Faceoff percentage: Flyers 49.9% (16th), Lightning 51.4% (T-10th) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)

FLYERS

12 Michael Raffl – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek

10 Brayden Schenn – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 17 Wayne Simmonds

18 R.J. Umberger – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read

36 Zac Rinaldo – 76 Chris VandeVelde – 42 Jason Akeson

8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit

15 Michael Del Zotto – 55 Nick Schultz

53 Shayne Gostisbehere – 22 Luke Schenn

29 Ray Emery

[35 Steve Mason]

Scratches: Andrew MacDonald (lower body), Braydon Coburn (IR, left foot), Vincent Lecavalier (IR, left foot), Blair Jones (healthy), Brandon Manning (healthy).

LIGHTNING

17 Alex Killorn – 51 Valtteri Filppula – 91 Steven Stamkos

18 Ondrej Palat – 9 Tyler Johnson – 86 Nikita Kucherov

27 Jonathan Drouin – 90 Vladislav Namestnikov – 13 Cedric Paquette

10 Brenden Morrow – 11 Brian Boyle – 23 J.T. Brown

25 Matt Carle – 6 Anton Stralman

5 Jason Garrison – 7 Radko Gudas

2 Eric Brewer – 62 Andrej Sustr

30 Ben Bishop

[20 Evgeni Nabokov]

Scratches: Mark Barberio (healthy), Brett Connolly (healthy), Ryan Callahan (IR, lower body), Victor Hedman (IR, hand).

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This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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