There are just seven games left in the Philadelphia Flyers' regular season (!) and at this point it's all about ramping up for the postseason, jockeying for seeding while getting all one's eggs in the same basket. A season's worth of work has been put in getting ready for this time of year, and now it's just about crunch time.
The regular season comes with plenty of peaks and valleys, but when it gets to playoff time, it's really all about peaking at the proper time. We've seen great teams lose in the first round thanks to poor match-ups, just as we've seen weaker teams advance when they probably should not.
Luckily for us, it seems as though the Flyers are peaking at the right time. Granted, there's still time before the first round begins, but we have to like what we've seen lately from this team. If you're Peter Laviolette, then, you might not want to mess with what's been working -- namely, you might want to keep Ilya Bryzgalov in the crease.
But as he's set to start his 17th game in the team's last 18, according to reporters, it seems as though now might be as good a time as any to give him a rest.
We know all about Lavi's propensity to stick with the hot hand in goal, and frankly, I'm not terribly concerned about Bryzgalov wearing out. It's already March. If he's going to wear out at this point, we're screwed regardless of how many games he plays in a row. Besides, he can only play 62 games at maximum this season, and he's played more hockey than that in each of the last four seasons.
My concern is more on the flip side of the issue. Sergei Bobrovsky has been sitting on the bench for 989 minutes of the team's last 1,049 minutes played. That's a lot of time without game action, and ... well, what if Bryzgalov gets injured in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals? Would you enjoy throwing a guy in the crease who hasn't played a game in a month?
It might not be the biggest of problems, but it's one that just makes you scratch your head a little bit. What's the benefit in keeping Bryzgalov in the crease for a game like tonight's? Points are obviously vital for playoff seeding, but do we not trust Bob to win a game at all? I see more of a benefit in getting Bob a few games down the stretch than I do in starting Bryzgalov for his millionth-straight game.
Oh well. We're looking at a similar lineup tonight as we saw over the weekend vs. Montreal. The Lightning, meanwhile, will be without Vincent Lecavalier, who hasn't played the last 16 games with a hand injury. The key as always is shutting down Steven Stamkos, who has scored nearly 25 percent of the year's goals for the Lightning.
He's really good. The rest of the team is not. Game thread tonight at 5ish. Puck drop is on NBC Sports Network in the United States and TSN2 in Canada at 7:30 p.m. Be sure to check in with Lightning blog Raw Charge for full coverage from the other end of tonight's matchup.