Originally posted on Puck Drunk Love  |  Last updated 11/9/11



Flyers

Lightning

8-4-2 (18 points)

7-5-2 (16 points)

4th in the East

7th in the East

2nd in Atlantic

2nd in the Southeast

Last 10: 5-4-1

Last 10: 6-3-1

Blog: Flyers Goal Scored By

Blog: Raw Charge



Flying High...

The Philadelphia Flyers have been doing an incredible job of time traveling despite not owning a time machine. By that I mean that the Flyers are channeling teams of the 1980’s with their offense first, defense never mentality. So far, it’s working, and to a tune of fourth place in the conference too.

The Flyers offense is on a torrential pace of an even 4.00 goals scored per game, good for tops in the entire League. The Flyers have scored three or more goals in nine of their fourteen games thus far. Scoring three or more in the NHL is usually a pretty good indication you’ll win the game, or at least have a pretty good shot.

Heading into the season, the Flyers expected to finally have their goaltending situation resolved and solid for the first time since Ron Hextall due to the offseason acquisition of former Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Breezy has gotten off to a less than desirable start, putting up a record of 6-4-1 with a GAA of 2.94 and an ugly save percentage of .893. Backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has fared even worse, boasting a record of 2-0-1 with a GAA of 3.44 and save percentage of .883. Now, keep in mind that those numbers are skewed by the idiocy that was the 9-8 win over the Jets on October 27th, but every other night has not been pretty either.

In addition to the acquisition of Bryzgalov, the Flyers jettisoned Mike “Bobby Clarke 2.0” Richards & Jeff Carter for a bundle of players and prospects. Most importantly acquired out of those deals were Wayne Simmons, Brayden Schenn and a draft pick used to draft Sean Courtier. Courtier is off to a great start, racking up eight points already. So far, Richards' and Carter's scoring hasn't been missed due to Claude Giroux's amazing start of 19 points (second only to Phil Kessel).

There is one piece of big news coming into the contest, and that’s the rumored return of Chris Pronger. He’s participated in full practices on Monday & Tuesday all while wearing a visor and all signs point to him returning to the ice against the Lightning. Looking at the Flyer’s defensemen’s stats, you wouldn’t think they’d be salivating for the return of Pronger. The only defensemen that isn’t at least an even is Matt Walker and he’d somehow manage to be a minus paired with Bobby Orr. What Pronger will do however is provide additional snarl and experience to the already respectable special teams of the Flyers. The Flyers are ranked 10th on the powerplay (19.1%) and 13th on the kill (84.4%) and Pronger will be able to improve both of those.

Where the Flyers have really made their bed though is holding onto leads. When leading after the first (7-0-0) or second (7-0-0) periods, the Flyers have a perfect record. Yet, looking at the other side of that coin, the Flyers are seemingly unable to come back from trailing after the first (0-3-0) or the second (0-4-0), going winless in each of those situations.

The Flyers will need to put a puck or two in early to continue the shakiness that is the Lightning goaltending. The Lightning will pot a couple goals tonight, so the Flyers will have to continue their “outscore everything, damn the defense” mentality that has worked so far this year.

One Liner: "Jaromir Jagr hates Lightning. He hides under my couch whimpering during every thunderstorm." -@flygoalscoredby, Flyers Goal Scored By

Interesting. That's also why Crosby lived with Super Mario. They'd cuddle during storms.

Will Lightning Strike?

The Lightning are coming into the contest against the Flyers finally hitting their stride after a rough start to the season. They started October with a 1-4-2 record through their first seven games, but have since followed that up with six wins out of their last eight games.

The Bolts, as always, are led by young near-mullet-touting sniper Steven Stamkos. Stamkos is tied alongside Marc-Andre Bergeron for the team lead in points with 15 (10 goals, 5 assists). Then of course there’s Marty St. Louis (3-11/14) and Vinny Lecavalier (6-5/11) right behind him. Most surprising of a start is Teddy Purcell, running rampant with five goals and seven assists, nestling right in between St. Louis & Lecavalier among the team leaders.

The crux of the Lightning’s struggles however, have stemmed from the play in net. After last season’s surprising performance (particularly in the playoffs) by Dwayne Roloson, both he and offseason acquisition Mathieu Garon have struggled to find any consistency. They both have started seven games, with Roloson posting a record of 4-3-1, a GAA of 3.31 and a SV% of .899. Garon has been slightly better, but still awful by NHL starter comparisons, with a record of 3-2-1, a GAA of 2.81 and a SV% of .911.

Just like the Flyers, the Lightning would like to grab a lead after the first or second since they’re perfect in those situations (only 1-0-0 after the first, but 5-0-0 when leading after two). However, if they don’t, they’ll be in better shape than the Flyers, going 2-1-1 when trailing after one and 1-5-1 when trailing after two.

The Lightning are sitting at 12th in the League for powerplay conversions, working at a 19% clip. Even better news for the Lightning? They’re 4/12 (33.3%) on the powerplay at home. The kill could stand to improve, good for 17th in the League at an 81.8% conversion rate.

The key for the Lightning will be to protect their net and try to keep Philly’s chances minimized. If pucks start sneaking in early for the Flyers, things get dangerous. Philly has shown a propensity for pouring in a buttload (that’s a scientific term) of goals. The Lightning will get their chances and they’ll score, but the return of Chris Pronger will make life for everyone in a blue sweater more difficult.

One Liner: "These two teams are in similar spots in their divisions & have similar records in their past 10 games, so this ought to be a close game, even despite the Lightning's tendency to start games slowly this season." -@dagmar27, Cassie McClellan, Raw Charge

The Lightning better not start this game slowly, or they'll be in trouble.

Out on a limb...

Prediction time. I like the matchup of Philly’s high powered offense against the less-than staunch defenders for Tampa. I think Philly pots a couple goals early, continues to pressure and takes advantage of Tampa pressing for goals later on.

Flyers 5 - Lightning 2 with Pronger scoring a power play goal.

Who do you got for tonight's Game of the Week? Sound off in the comments!

Note: The wrap up will come late this evening due to previous obligations, keep an eye out for it!

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This article first appeared on Puck Drunk Love and was syndicated with permission.

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