Flight Plan: Bolt and Rest

Kimmo Timonen in Warmups. Image courtesy of Amy Irvin http://www.facebook.com/38Photography

There is an old adage in sports: a win is a win. The Philadelphia Flyers won their last game against the New Jersey Devils in a shootout and have inched closer to climbing back into the playoff race. Unfortunately, they haven’t put themselves in a much better position by allowing the Devils a point in that game, but still, two points are two points. There has been much positive to take away from the Flyers’ current slide. They’ve been mired in a 5-5-0 run and have lost four of their last six games. At the very least, the team played with some emotion and will need to take that into their only game this week against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Flyers will have five whole days after that game to prepare themselves for the final 18 games of 2013. You can purchase tickets to all games here!

The Flyers are 100% healthy for the first time all season and are getting down to the nitty gritty of their schedule. They will need their best players to step up night in and night out if they have any shot at sneaking back into the playoff picture. Claude Giroux has three points in his last five games, which is simply not good enough. The point-leader of the team, Jake Voracek, has four points in his last five games, but has been held off the score sheet in three of those five. Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read each have just one point in their last five, while Danny Briere and Brayden Schenn are pointless in that span. Going forward, the Flyers need to find a sense of urgency and create an identity for themselves, as well as be committed to team defense, otherwise it will be a real long summer. Veteran Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen can play his 1,000th career NHL game against Tampa.

Tampa Bay Lightning on 03.18.2013 at 7:30 PM in Tampa Bay:
The Tampa Bay Lightning bolted out of the gate this year, but have fallen all the way to the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference. Tampa is just below Philadelphia with 25 points, though they have played one fewer game meaning this game is just as important as the last against New Jersey. As expected, the Lightning are led by Steven Stamkos who has 38 points in 28 games this season. He also leads the league with 20 goals (18 assists). Stamkos is followed, and flanked, by Martin St. Louis who has 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists). Teddy Purcell has 23 points (five goals, 18 assists), while Lightning Captain Vinny Lecavalier has 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists). Surprising rookie Cory Conacher has 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists). Anders Lindback has received the lion’s share of the starts for the Bolts as he owns a 9-7-1 record, a 2.93 goals against average, and a .902 save percentage. His backup, Mathieu Garon, has a 3-7-0 record, a 2.65 goals against average, and a .915 save percentage. If the Flyers can manage to keep a lid on those five players, they have a good shot at winning this game, and they’ll need to if they want to be playing in May.