We’re back, you guys! We had a nice little break to celebrate Christmas, whether you celebrate or not, and then a bonus day for putting things in boxes and yelling at children. But now we’re back and ready to yell at some adults! That’s right, the Flyers are back!
They’ve been starting to pull things together since the start of the Scott Gordon era, winning three of their last four games. They seem to be picking up some steam, but they’ll have a tough test ahead of them as they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. The Lightning, in short, are playing some pretty spectacular hockey. They’re first in the league with 58 points, and have collected points in each of their least ten games (with nine wins and an overtime loss to the Jets). In short, the Bolts figure to be a formidable opponent, so here are three things that the Flyers will have to have going for them if they want to hang.
1. Score some goals
We talked about this when they faced off against another high powered offense in Calgary, but the Flyers really don’t have much of a chance to shut down this Tampa offense. They lead the league in goals for with 154 on the season. So if you want to hang with them, you’re going to have to get your offense going, as well. And the Flyers have a chance to do that—they’ve been getting chances and goals from up and down the lineup, and this is going to be a key factor for them.
Their lines are starting to build some chemistry, and while they haven’t been scoring huge numbers of goals (no more than three in regulation in their last four), they’re getting chances and seem to be building towards more. And we can just hope tonight’s when they start connecting on a couple more of those chances.
With all that said, with the Lightning offense looking to do what it does, the Flyers’ goaltenders are going to have their work cut out for them. As he seems to have asserted himself as the starter, at least through these early goings, Michal Neuvirth’s slated to get the start tonight, and that makes sense, given his strong play on Sunday in New York as well as the presumed desire to shelter Carter Hart a little (better to give him Saturday’s game against Florida, you know?). But Neuvirth did have a good game on Sunday against the Rangers, and he’ll need to be in top form tonight. They’re facing a more difficult opponent than the Rangers in this one.
But, by that same token, if the defense in front could stay strong (and, you know, remain upright) and not leave their goalie out to dry, that would be helpful too. Just throwing that out there.
3. Power play conversions, please?
So the Flyers are finally starting to get some goals on the power play, and that’s pretty neat. I mean, things still haven’t been great for the Flyers’ power play, as they’re still sitting at 29th in the league. But they’re still getting some results now, and they’re going to need to hope that this has been the dam breaking and that the goals are going to start flowing liberally, with that need to score All Of The Goals in this game that we just talked about. They’ll have their work cut out for them, squaring off against an eighth ranked Tampa penalty kill, but they’re going to need to find a way to best them. Goals in all situations, yes please.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. tonight and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Konecny
Simmonds - Coururier - Voracek
Laughton - Patrick - Raffl
Lindblom - Varone - Weise
Provorov - Sanheim
Hagg - Gostisbehere
MacDonald - Gudas