For some reason, we've never really done in-depth game preview stuff around here. Usually it's just the game thread and a recap. Well, we're gonna have to change that, starting today. Alright, let's get to talking about beating the Lightning.
Brayden Schenn will be back in the lineup tonight when the Flyers face off against Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at St. Pete Times Forum, and that's really awesome because the Flyers have about four capable forwards right now. Exaggerating, obviously, but Danny Briere will be back in the lineup as well, and slowly but surely, the lineup is starting to get back to full strength, at least up front.
With Briere and Schenn back on the ice, we're only waiting on Sean Couturier to return at this point among the forwards. This is all very good, and even Scooter skated today at practice, so he's likely close to returning.
(An aside: we've learned from 24/7 that the team calls him Scooter, so that's what we're going with from now on. Even though I personally prefer Juicy. Aside two: Did Lavi actually say Cooter in that episode of 24/7 last week? I'll have to go back and listen -- I thought it was Scooter. But Cooter is just hilariously raunchy, so if that's the case... well, we have to stick with the authentic nickname, right?)
Couple that with Erik Gustafsson's impending return and we might have a pretty damn healthy lineup on our hands for the Winter Classic in six days.
Briere only missed a game, so it's not as if he was terribly missed. Schenn, though, likely replaces Jody Shelley on the fourth line tonight, and that's obviously a huge improvement. Schenn can play hockey, and he can play it quite well, and playing on the fourth line will give him the opportunity to ease back into the game following his concussion. We'd expect Briere to center the second line, as usual, with James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds.
Ilya Bryzgalov will be in net for the Flyers, and he'll face off against Mathieu Garon for the Bolts, according to our pals over at Raw Charge. Now, about those Lightning...
Martin St. Louis returned to action last week after taking a puck off the face in practice the week prior. He scored and stuff in his return, and tonight will be his first game back on home ice since returning. Tampa Bay is sort of at a crossroads right now. Their season is not going as planned, especially after reaching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and if they want to think playoffs, tonight is a good time to start getting the act together,
Game 35 might not be the half-way point ot the season, but it does mark the end of a road-wary team's travels. Oh, the Bolts still hit the road for stretches during the weeks to come, but 26 of the next 40 games played will be at Times Palace.
For a team that must get it's act together if it wants to make the playoffs, the comforts of home may just be the remedy for what ails the Lightning. Or not.
Let's uh, not let 'em get any momentum tonight, eh boys? Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. tonight on CSN Philly, Sun Sports in Tampa and 94WIP. Brian Startare is going to be talking about Chem's FanPost on ESPN at some point during the WIP pregame show, so be sure to tune in for that. Game thread will be up at 6 p.m.