Alain Vigneault is searching for his first legitimate victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Philadelphia Flyers head coach.
Ever since the Philadelphia Flyers went on their road trip through Western Canada, they’ve failed to string together two victories. They haven’t lost consecutive games either. Everything has evened out, keeping steady as the middling team of the Metropolitan Division.
Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning comes to town. They’ve struck down Alain Vigneault’s Flyers every time (that round-robin tournament win doesn’t count, sorry.)
But Philadelphia is big time this season, knocking down the elite competition.
During the regular season, there’s nothing grander than defeating the defending champions on home ice. The Lightning won’t treat this contest like a glorified exhibition with points at stake. Both franchises are keeping with their division race. There’s nothing comfortable about two teams competing to maintain relevance in their division. More importantly, Vigneault has something to prove as the Flyers head coach against Tampa Bay.
Tampa Two Times
Brian Elliott will return to the Wells Fargo Center tonight but as a backup. Andrei Vasilevskiy will start. The only real news to keep an eye on is the availability of Anthony Cerelli.
The Tampa Bay Lightning rank seventeenth in team offense and sixth in team defense. Even without Nikita Kucherov, it’s a surprise the Lightning rank in the bottom half of the NHL on offense.
Cirelli did not practice on Tuesday (maintenance day) but will likely be in the lineup.
Tampa Bay has a very deep, skilled roster. They’re a team where their ranking and analytics don’t justify how quickly they can leave the competition on the backburner. Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman are as great as ever. The Philadelphia Flyers need a repeat performance like their recent one versus the Calgary Flames.
Over the last five games, the Lightning is 3-0-2. They’re as tough to beat as usual. Special teams have to give for the Flyers. Philadelphia has been terrific defensively and on the penalty kill lately. Tonight, they need to convert against Tampa Bay, who ranks 31st in penalty minutes.
Carter Hart will battle between the pipes tonight. Patrick Brown will not play tonight, inserting Oskar Lindblom back into the mix. We knew Ryan Ellis was on long-term injured reserve. He would have had to miss ten games and 24 days either way, but the tail end of the 4-6 week window gives him a 2022 return. Lineup adversity is nothing new for the Philadelphia Flyers this season.
Speaking of the lineup, Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien adjusted the powerplay units again. Where will Cam Atkinson take his mark on the powerplay? When shuffled, Travis Konecny was net-front on the first unit and bumper on the second.
Though they nearly give up the most penalty minutes on average, the Tampa Bay Lightning rank tenth on the penalty kill. It will be infuriating if another adjustment by Therrien doesn’t pan out. On average, the Lightning gives up almost thirteen penalty minutes per game. I don’t want to imagine a 0/6 evening for the Flyers powerplay.
My defensive spotlight shines upon Rasmus Ristolainen, Travis Sanheim, and Nick Seeler. Against the Calgary Flames, the second pair remained disruptive in passing lanes and along the boards, while Seeler kept the intensity on the bottom without getting penalized.
Resiliency works best when keeping calm and disciplined, like a duck above water.
Both teams are confident, but which team is hungrier? Alain Vigneault wants his first real victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Lightning wants to continue to ride their two-game winning streak. It would be something if Vigneault could create a winning streak at the expense of Tampa Bay. I think they do that.
Flyers win, 3-2.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre