Remember last year when the Flyers stood around with the puck against the Lightning and it was a whole thing? Yeah, apparently that's all Tampa fans and media care about heading into tonight's game between the two teams, even though they've played three other times since.
Philadelphia Flyers (2-3-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (3-1-0)
6:00 p.m. | Tampa Bay Times Forum | Tampa, Fla.
TV: CSN Philly, Sun Sports | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Tampa Bay perspective at Raw Charge
I think we've all, as hockey fans, dealt with enough sideshow acts over the last few months with regards to the 2012 lockout and collective bargaining antics from the NHL and NHL Players Association. We've dealt with so much, in fact, we're (fans of the NHL collectively) pretty much set until probably sometime during the 2014-15 season.
That's part of why I'm not thrilled with the notion the Philadelphia Flyers roll into town early this evening for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After last season, the Flyers collective identity is for theatrics and the sideshow.
On Nov. 9, 2011, the Lightning and Flyers engaged at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in a very strange game as the Flyers decided the best way to combat Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 defensive system was to pretty much do nothing -- literally. The Flyers held the puck in their zone waiting for the Lightning to commit a forechecker. Tampa Bay did not, so seven times in the first 20 minutes the team just stared at each other. The longest stretch was for 50 seconds.
Lightning defenseman Matt Carle was with the Flyers back then and said on Sunday, "Hopefully, you'll never see that again."
The Times story actually has some interesting quotes from Carle on what the Flyers were thinking back when they stood around with the puck in an attempt to break Tampa's 1-3-1 defense. But I'm really not sure why this is still a story. Was it as big a deal as everybody made it out to be? The Flyers lost the game anyway.
To me, the bigger storyline entering this game tonight is Carle. It's not hard to find a Flyers fan who couldn't stand Carle while he was here, but with the current state of the Flyers defense, it'd be really super fantastic to have him back. Instead, he walked away from the Flyers in July as they focused their efforts on expectedly-fruitless attempts at signing big name UFAs Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
And now Carle's in Tampa Bay, where tonight he'll be able to burn his old team with the trademark consistency and level-headed play that Flyers fans never truly could appreciate. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but Carle already has three points in four games so far this season and has seen top-pairing minutes with partner Eric Brewer. He's played more minutes (both total and per game) than anybody on the team. He's Matt Carle.
I wrote about 500 words after this point, but when I hit publish, it all got lost, and the most recent save point on my draft was right here. That sucks. Let's just list off some extra storylines, then.
* Stamkos is really good. He has eight points in four games. Keep an eye on him, maybe.
* It's not just their top line though: Keep an eye on rookie Cory Conacher, who's been lighting the AHL on fire for the last two seasons. He has seven points and plays on the second line with Vinny Lecavalier.
* Michael Leighton is in net tonight as Ilya Bryzgalov gets a rest. Be prepared to watch B-roll of a certain goal that Leighton once gave up.
Scott Laughton is heading back to juniors and that means a bit of a shift in the lineup. Here's what we're probably looking at this evening:
Flyers Projected Lineup
Scratches: Lilja (healthy), Rinaldo (laceration)
Tampa Bay Projected Lineup
It's Leighton vs. Anders Lindback in goal. Game thread will be up at 5:45.