Game 36, Preview and Open Thread: What Do the Flyers Give Us For Christmas? Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning

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#14 Philadelphia Flyers (15-18-2, 32 pts) at #11 Tampa Bay Lightning (13-14-9, 35 pts)
St. Pete Times Forum - 7:30 PM EST - Tampa, FL
TV: CSN Philly HD, Sun HD
Radio: 610 WIP (internet stream)
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Raw Charge
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Flyers fans have a lot to wish for this Christmas.  Tonight is the last chance the team has to grant those wishes before the holiday.  Whether they come true or not, that's an entirely different story.

With Brian Boucher injured, the team will look to newly reacquired Michael Leighton in goal.  If that thought scares you, you're not alone.  However, he didn't look particularly bad in relief of Boucher on Monday.  Hopefully Leighton can be "good enough".

While this entire week is a good chance for the Flyers to rebound, the Lightning are a particularly good candidate to beat.  The team has fewer wins on the year than the Flyers - seriously, that's hard to do - but sits atop them in the standings thanks to their ability to take games into overtime.  In their last 10 games, neither team has played well, but the Lightning are only one win better than the Flyers during that stretch - going 3-6-1. 

Fortunately for Flyers fans, we will not see Antero Niittymaki tonight as Mike Smith will be in goal for the Lightning.  Niittymaki has been clearly better than Smith all year, and has even been considered one of the top 10 players in the NHL as recently as last week.  Hopefully the Flyers can take advantage.

When looking at the Lightning, you obviously know their top players are Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos.  But what you probably don't know is that former Penguin Ryan Malone is second on the team in goals and third on the team in points, ahead of Lecavalier. 

Things aren't exactly going well for Tampa Bay, as Cassie from Raw Charge had a lot of criticism for the team's play even after a win on Monday. 

Not a single Lightning player played well for the entire game, except for perhaps Tanguay. Everyone had their good and bad moments - and there was lot more bad than good, frankly - but it was enough to get them over the hump and into the win column. Winning doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to happen.

I'm sure it's no coincidence that the team beat the Islanders that game - even we beat them! - but that was the first time the Bolts had won two in a row all season.  Let's not make it three in a row for them.

After the jump, starting lineups and questions to answer.

They were already mentioned above, but here are your starting goalies:


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Michael Leighton 8 388 1 4 27 4.18 181 154 .851 0


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Mike Smith 20 1150 6 9 59 3.08 590 531 .900 1


Forwards:

Hartnell-Carter-Briere

Gagne-Richards-Giroux

van Riemsdyk-Powe-Asham

Carcillo-Betts-Laperriere

 

Questions to Answer:

  1. The starting 18 are finally healthy.  Can they begin forming chemistry, tonight?
  2. Does Michael Leighton play well enough to win tonight?
  3. Can the team score more than 1 goal?
  4. The never-ending question:  Can the PP get it going?

Could tonight be the last night for Santa Sacks?? I can only hope.  Join us here for the game thread.

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