Michael Stuart: No Words


The Philadelphia Flyers kicked the Tampa Bay Lightning around like a football on Friday night, and ultimately skated off the ice at Wells Fargo Center with a 7-3 victory in their back pocket.

Unfortunately, the trouble didn’t stop there for the team from Florida.

More concerning than the loss itself is the fact that Tampa lost both Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman, who are unlikely to play in tomorrow’s contest thanks to lower body injuries.

The loss was costly in more than one way.

The bottom line on Monday night was that the Flyers were busy playing hockey while the Lightning were preoccupied with a post-NFL-watching nap. The result speaks for itself. The Bolts were outmatched, outplayed, and ultimately outscored by a supposedly inferior opponent. ‘Parity’ isn’t just a buzzword in the NHL. It’s reality.

Based on the final score, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the Flyers got on the board early. Just 6:12 into the contest, Chris VandeVelde was able to tip a Luke Schenn shot past Evgeni Nabokov for the 1-0 Flyers lead. Left uncovered by the Lightning defense, VandeVelde was able to cruise into the slot in a timely and effective manner. He made no mistake scoring his third of the year.

Tampa answered back about four minutes later when Steven Stamkos scored his 23rd goal of the season at 10:26. Despite being covered nicely, Stamkos was able to find a sweet spot and fire home the power play goal. That marker knotted things at one, and briefly made things interesting. The emphasis there is on the word briefly.

R.J. Umberger scored his seventh of the year before the first period buzzer rang to start a string of six (!) straight Philadelphia goals. Jakub Voracek and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored within the first three minutes of the second period to extend the Flyers lead to 4-1.

That was the end of Nabokov’s night.

The Lightning goaltender stopped nine of 13 shots fired his way, and just may have ended his career with the Bolts in the process. There’s absolutely no way Steve Yzerman can head into the playoffs with Nabokov as his backup goaltender, is there? He has to make a move at the trade deadline. We all saw what happened with Anders Lindback last season, and this might just be worse.

Down 4-1 and with Ben Bishop in net, maybe the Bolts thought they had a tiny bit of life. That faint hope was quickly extinguished, as Mark Streit, Brayden Schenn, and Michael Raffl scored goals in quick succession to extend the Philadelphia lead to 7-1. Nabokov stopped nine of 13; Bishop stopped nine of 12. I guess that’s an improvement?

What a mess.

Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan scored goals before the final buzzer rang, but Philadelphia can be excused for taking their foot off the pedal with a 7-1 lead. The goals were virtually meaningless. They were stat-padders for Boyle, Callahan, and the players who were credited with assists.

As mentioned in the intro, the loss hurt the Bolts in more than one way. With Johnson and Hedman unlikely to play tomorrow, the Lightning could be forced to make some call-ups. Without its top scoring player and Norris-quality defenseman, the Tampa roster looks a whole lot thinner. That’s hardly a good thing as the team heads into Boston with a tired Bishop for a tilt with the Bruins tomorrow night.

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.

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