The Philadelphia Flyers are in the middle of a playoff race so every game is important for them, and this week won’t be an easy one.
The Flyers play the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are in the middle of a nine game winning streak, twice and the Florida Panthers once. The Flyers face off against Tampa Bay first on Monday night at home, where they are 17-9-7, but the Lightning are pretty good on the road (18-12-2). The two teams will meet again on Friday night, but this time in Tampa where the Lightning are 21-10-2. Philadelphia has a 13-14-4 road record. Then on Saturday night, the Flyers will faceoff with the struggling Panthers.
The Orange and Black are 6-3-1 in its last 10 games played, which includes a 4-1-0 record at home. Philadelphia will be missing forward Jake Voracek and his team leading 38 assists again due to a lower body injury. The Flyers first unit power play now has Mark Streit taking Voracek’s spot with Shayne Gostisbehere at the point. If either team can stop the power play unit then there’s a good chance the power play will be kept off the board since the second unit hasn’t chipped in much this season.
Philadelphia will need to stay out of the box against the Lightning, especially while in Tampa, since the Lightning has the fourth best power play in the NHL while on home ice at 22.5%. If the Flyers can manage to score first and take a lead into the third period then they’ll have a good chance at winning the game. When Tampa Bay scores first they have a 29-5-0 record but when the opponent scores first the team is only 10-17-4. The Lightning have a 2-14-1 record when trailing after two periods versus a 30-1-0 record when leading after two periods. The Flyers can come back if trailing going into the third (5-19-5).
The Orange and Black will need to play a solid defensive game especially against the Lightning’s top two lines. The Stamkos line and the Triplet Line have combined for 220 points this season. Tampa Bay’s third and fourth lines have a combined 104 points, so if the Flyers can manage to somehow contain the top two lines of the Lightning, they should have a decent shot at winning. Tampa Bay doesn’t exactly have the most offensively-minded defense in the league, but the Flyers will need to keep an eye on Victor Hedman (37 points) & Anton Stralman (31 points). The defensive duo has combined for 68 points while the rest of the defense only have 43 combined points.
When the Flyers visit the Panthers, they’ll need to get off to a good start and play a solid road game because the Panthers are 20-9-4 at home. Philadelphia will also want to stay out of the penalty box against the Panthers since they convert on over 20% of their power plays on home ice. Florida has been struggling as of late, but they also have some key pieces out of the lineup right now. The Flyers will again need to score the first goal of the game and keep pressing because if they try and sit back on the lead then the Panthers will make them pay. The Panthers have a 7-17-2 record when the opponent scores first versus a 29-4-6 record when they get the game’s first goal.
If the Flyers can manage to get the have the lead after two periods, then that will better their chances to win the game. The Panthers are 2-17-1 when trailing after two periods, but are 25-2-5 when leading after two periods. The Panthers’ best period is usually the first period where they have scored 53 goals for and have only allowed 37 goals against. The Flyers will need to get off to a fast start and be sure to get the forechecking game going early.
If the Flyers want to stay in the playoff race, then they need to win these crucial games going down the stretch.