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When this schedule was announced and the qualifying and round robins began a week ago everyone thought this would be a rubber match. A mean nothing game between a top contender and the fourth-place team. The Flyers have shut down all of their critics though soaring to a 2-0 record.
Tampa Bay has also cruised past Washington and Boston though and is currently in the same boat. Either way, you slice it, the winner of this game will take the top seed in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia looks like an early cup favorite right now. We like the Flyers to go 3-0 in the round robin with a 4-2 win over the Bolts on Saturday
Philadelphia to win +115
Philadelphia has only won 20 of these two teams’ last 62 meetings. True story. Speaking of last meetings, the favorite is a perfect 7-0 through their last seven tilts.
|Philadelphia Flyers vs Tampa Bay Lightning Information|
|What||Philadelphia Flyers vs Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Where||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON|
|When||August 8, 2020 – Game Time: 8:00 PM|
|How to Watch||NBC Sports, Sportsnet|
We can officially say at this point that the NHL has done a better job than any other league. With all due respect to the NBA of course who has also done a spectacular job with their return to play proceedings. The NHL mapped out a plan of action and thus far the protocol has been absolutely flawless.
The league chose Edmonton and Toronto as their hub cities and laid out a great best of five play-in qualifying round for most and a round-robin tourney for the top four seeds in each conference. This game is the culmination of that round-robin in the East. This game will decide who takes the top seed moving forward.
We’ve all seen the Carter Hart show in action this season and it’s impressive, to say the least. On Thursday, though, we also saw veteran goalie Brian Elliott in a big game situation against the Washington Capitals, and all questions were put to rest. Elliott, also known as Moose, was excellent and so were the Flyers – again.
Out of the crease, this team is also getting production from a number of sources as well. As we saw this season, one of the big-ticket traits about these Flyers is that they can spread around the points. All of their production isn’t coming from just one line. With that said, game two against the Caps on Thursday was a different story. The Laughton, Hayes, Konecny line combined for eight points in their big game two wins.
The Flyers now need to keep Tampa Bay on their heels by keeping their supporting lines involved. That top veteran line with Giroux, Couturier, and Voracek needs to join in the mix as well with the latter two lines continuing to create havoc and opportunities in front.
If Philly can keep their shot assault going, they stand a grand chance in this game. As we saw in that Tampa-Boston game, just keep firing away and the goals will come.
This may not apply to Steven Stamkos who missed the first two Lightning round-robin matchups with a lower-body injury. His return is questionable, but the whereabouts of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman must be noticeable. The Bolts need to be ready right off the hop with their big guns firing or top seed in the East just may not be their destiny this time around.
At the end of the day, win or lose, we’re talking about a seeding game here and whether you’re first or second isn’t really that big of a deal. However, using this game as a pressure-packed primer for what’s to come in the quarterfinals is a must. Tampa needs to treat this like a game seven to hit the ground running when the real matchups begin.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has shown flashes of brilliance but he’s also shown a little vulnerability when quality screens in front are set. The Tampa Bay defense needs to do a better job in this game of clearing out the front of the net to prevent any possible garbage goals. Those could be the deciding factor in this one.
Again, this is a primer for what’s to come, so if there’s any question or doubt around Steven Stamkos leading up to puck drop, he’ll likely sit out another game to be ready for the quarterfinals.
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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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