Michael Stuart: Lightning, Flyers Set to Entertain at Amalie Arena

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Is it time for the annual “defense optional” game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers? As OzBolts pointed out in the last thread, it just might be.

The Flyers arrive at the Amalie Arena tonight riding high on a three-game winning streak. Since starting the season with a 1-3-2 record, Craig Berube’s Flyers have worked their way up to 4-3-2, good enough for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Even with some fairly significant injuries on their defense, Philadelphia has remained more than competitive. The three straight victories came against Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Detroit. If that doesn’t impress you in today’s NHL… it should.

A lot of the credit for the Flyers’s little run should go to Ray Emery. Sporting a 2.44 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage, the veteran netminder is giving his team a chance to win whenever he takes to the ice. For Philadelphia fans who have seen their fair share of disasters in the crease over the years, that has to be a good feeling.

On the Lightning side of things, it looks like Jon Cooper will stick with what worked against the Arizona Coyotes just a few nights ago. After struggling through a trip out West, the Bolts returned home and dominated the Coyotes on their way to an impressive 7-3 victory. The lineup that night, which is expected to be the lineup tonight, looked a little something like this:

Valtteri Filppula-Steven Stamkos-Alex Killorn

Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov

Jonathan Drouin-Vladislav Namestnikov-Cedric Paquette

Brenden Morrow-Brian Boyle-J.T. Brown

Matt Carle-Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison-Radko Gudas

Eric Brewer-Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Evgeni Nabokov

That second forward line, in particular, is one to watch. The trio was absolutely phenomenal in the Arizona game, as evidenced by Kucherov’s hat-trick and Johnson’s four assists. With the four apples, Johnson now leads the Lightning in scoring with 12 points in 10 games. That’s hot half bad for an undrafted free agent signing, is it?

With the Montreal Canadiens still managing to pile up points at ‘lightning’ speed, it’s imperative that the Bolts keep pace. Tonight’s game against a very talented Philadelphia team is an important one. Currently three points back in the Atlantic Division race, Tampa has a chance to close the gap tonight should Montreal lose in Vancouver. Hopefully they take advantage.

As always, thanks for reading. Michael Stuart has been the Tampa Bay Lightning writer for HockeyBuzz since 2012. Visit his archive to read more or follow him on Twitter.

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

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