Flyers (36-14-5) at Lightning (34-17-5) 7:30 p.m
With love out of the air, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference face off for the second time in two weeks tonight. They last met fresh off the All-Star break, with the Lightning taking a commanding 4-0 decision in Dwayne Roloson’s fourth shutout for the Lightning this season. Roloson is expected to get the start in net again for the Bolts.
Tampa Bay will be looking at a slightly different Philadelphia lineup tonight. The Flyers acquired Kris Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday in exchange for the Flyers’ first and third round draft picks in 2011. I personally believe that was too high a price to pay for a player that is somewhat redundant in the Flyers’ lineup, but we will start to see if the deal pays off tonight in Versteeg’s first game with Philadelphia.
This will be the final meeting between the two, and the Lightning have won the previous three. With the Capitals losing in regulation last night, this provides yet another opportunity for the Lightning to extend their lead in the division.
While the Lightning are coming off an overtime win against the division rival Hurricanes, it is somewhat troublesome they blew a 3-1 lead before Marc-Andre Bergeron potted the game-winner. They won’t be able to risk something like that against a team like the Flyers.
The Flyers have been shut out in two of their last five games and are poised to break out. Jeff Carter has been fantastic during that stretch, scoring three of the last 8 Flyers goals and recording five points in his last four games.
The Flyers will also be boasting a healthy lineup, while the Lightning have Mike Lundin, Ryan Malone, and Nate Thompson all out nursing injuries. Smaby will also be out for the Bolts and will be replaced in the lineup by Norfolk call-up Mike Vernace.
This is grind time. With the trade deadline so close, this is the last chance to evaluate the team and figure out what it needs. This game will be a good place to do that against a strong, deep team. We get to watch the Lightning try to take a step closer to gaining the conference lead.