In what's probably the weirdest start time in Wachovia Center history, the Flyers will host the Lightning at 5 PM on a Monday night, thanks to a slightly important baseball game across the street. Yes, most of the Philly sports world will have their minds on the Phillies, who will attempt to stave off elimination against the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park a few hours from now. But before that happens, we turn our eyes to hockey, in a game that shapes up to be a battle for playoff positioning.
Yes, of course, it's very, very early in the season, but the fact that Tampa can take away the Flyers grip on eighth place in the East with a win tonight should show you just how much work the orange and black has to do to get where they want to be. Tampa is coming off of a 2-1 win over the Devils on Saturday night, and with Martin St. Louis riding an 11-game point streak and Steven Stamkos tallying 10 goals in his last nine games, the Bolts have a formidable top line the Flyers will have to deal with.
Whenever these two teams get together in recent times, we are pressed to think about the connections each roster has with the other. Matt Carle, a former Bolt, plays for the Flyers. The Bolts are led by their head coach Rick Tocchet, of course a former Flyer. Steve Downie and Todd Fedoruk (linemates, by the way) are also members of the Lightning. Antero Niittymaki plays in Tampa, too, but he'll be riding the pine this evening. Vinny Prospal has moved on to the Rangers.
It's a rivalry that most don't put much thought into, but these two cities certainly don't like each other. Whether it's the Flyers losing in seven to the Lightning in the 2004 playoffs, the Eagles fighting with the Bucs in several NFC title games, or the Phils winning the 2008 World Series against the Rays, there never seems to be a dull moment when teams from these two cities get together.
Don't expect many changes from John Stevens. You should expect to see the same personnel as you did in Saturday's 6-1 drubbing of the Hurricanes -- yes, that means Danny Briere and Simon Gagne are still out. David Laliberte is still in the lineup and Ryan Parent is out for about another week. Thanks to Parent's absence, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen are back together.
After the jump, a few questions to answer tonight.
Questions To Answer
- The defensive pairings are back to normal. How do Coburn/Timonen loo together again for an entire game? Same goes for Tollefsen/Syvret?
- How long does it take Steve Downie to drop the gloves with one of the Flyers' tough guys?
- Are there any ill-effects to the early start?
How sparse is the crowd, thanks to the start time and the World Series?
- Can the Flyers show their superiority over the Lightning? Are the Flyers a superior team to the Lightning?
Here's to hoping the Flyers can bring a great start to what could be a great sports Monday in Philadelphia. CSN on TV locally and on the air at 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the conversation (those of us that can actually watch this one live, ugh) and LET'S GO FLYERS (and Phils)!