When the Flyers encountered Tampa Bay on Monday, it was a team that had won nine in a row and was cruising along pretty well. But it had needed overtime two nights before to extend that streak against Carolina, and also had Braydon Coburn coming out of the lineup with an injury, which had the potential to create some disarray on defense. In a sport where teams are often cyclical, the Lightning had reached an apex.
Fast forward to Friday, and the Flyers are likely to encounter a Tampa Bay team that’s in a bad mood. After the loss to the Flyers on Monday, which was only kept from being any worse by the stellar play of Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning went home and couldn’t get any of 42 shots past Jonas Gustavsson in a 1-0 overtime loss to Boston. Tampa Bay will have been sitting in the results of those two games for three days by the time the puck drops tomorrow night, and there’s no doubt they’ll be looking to get a bad taste out of their mouths.
“I guess they’ll be pretty angry,” said Shayne Gostisbehere. “But they’re a great team and they’re going to come back even stronger. We’ve got to be ready for them.”
Making the playoffs is not going to be a problem for the Lightning, but they’re doing all they can to try and facilitate their first round. Win the Atlantic, and they get a first-round matchup against a wild card team. But if they don’t, they get either Boston or Florida in the first round – the three teams are currently separated by just two points – and if both those teams pass them, they won’t even have home ice advantage.
"It’s a time of year where everybody’s fighting for something, and for sure they are as well,” said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. “We’ve got to look more inside our locker room and make sure we’re as hungry as we were over the past couple of nights.”
Puck drop is at 7:30 Friday night. Both games on the weekend will be on Comcast SportsNet and 93.3 WMMR.