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Flyers back in Tampa Bay, shrug off 1-3-1 talk

by Lonnie Herman /
TAMPA -- On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers make their first visit to the St. Pete Times Forum since Nov. 9. Early in that contest, the Flyers launched into their version of the "hesitation waltz," virtually freezing the puck and daring the Tampa Bay Lightning to break a 1-3-1 defensive formation and attack.

The tactic set loose a firestorm of comments and reactions from notables throughout the hockey world.

But despite the notoriety, don't rule out a repeat performance by the Flyers tonight. In fact, coach Peter Laviolette doesn't see what all the fuss was about.

"I don't think it was a controversy," Laviolette said, "it was a tactic. We normally don't share our game plans with the papers, so we'll just keep our plans for tonight to ourselves."

At the time the two teams met, both Tampa Bay and Philadelphia were enjoying success on the ice; the Lightning had won six of their last eight games and the Flyers had collected points in four consecutive games.

Since that meeting, only Philadelphia has been able to maintain its momentum, going 7-2-1 over its last 10 games while battling the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. It's been a different story for the Lightning, who have managed to win only six of 19 contests since that first meeting, including a 5-2 drubbing by the Flyers in Philadelphia on Dec. 10, during the course of which the Flyers attacked the Lightning aggressively.

"But things are different in their building," Laviolette said.

Different or not, how the Flyers attack their defense will be of little concern to the Lightning, who are hoping that the three game homestand which opens Tuesday night will give them some traction to advance in the standings.

"It won't matter to us at all, not really," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "We just play our system. If we start moving around that's when there will be holes for them to take advantage of."

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