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Lightning D will face big test against high-scoring Flyers

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will put their four-game home win-streak on the line when they face the goal-happy Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

As if facing the potent Flyers were not enough, to complicate matters for the Lightning, Philadelphia arrives at a time when the Tampa Bay defense is under duress.

With Mattias Ohlund still sidelined because of arthroscopic surgeries on both knees and Victor Hedman out with an upper-body injury, facing any team would be a challenge for the depleted defensive corps, but hosting the Flyers will be a particularly difficult chore.

Philadelphia (8-4-2) comes into the contest with the NHL team lead for goals scored with 56 scores, nine goals ahead of second-place Washington. That’s an average of four goals per game.

If the task facing Tampa Bay (7-5-2) was not daunting enough, the Flyers are a rested team, coming off a three day breather after stomping the Columbus Blue Jackets 9-2 on Saturday night, and Chris Pronger is back tonight too.

Philadelphia has now tallied 28 goals in their last five games.

The Lightning will have plenty of high-scoring Flyers to keep in check, including Jaromir Jagr, who has lately re-discovered his legendary scoring touch and is riding a seven-game scoring streak during which he has collected 6 goals and 5 assists. Add in Claude Giroux, the second-leading scorer in the NHL with 19 points and a five-game scoring streak including 4 goals and 5 assists and you’ve got the basis for a tough night for the Lightning defenders.

Also expected to be sidelined for Tampa Bay is Ryan Malone, hampered by an upper-body injury.

“We’re playing the only guys we have healthy,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. Then, addressing the assembled media, he asked, “Any of you guys want to skate with us tonight?”

No hands were raised.

“We have to struggle right now,” Boucher said. “It’s not necessarily our “A” line-up but that’s the reality. Hopefully, we’ll battle through. They (Philadelphia) can make you look bad. It puts a lot of stress on our defensemen.”

Likely Lightning lineup

Martin St. Louis - Vincent Lecavalier - Brett Connolly
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Tom Pyatt - Dominic Moore - Ryan Shannon
Adam Hall - Nate Thompson - Blair Jones

Matt Gilroy - Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina - Marc-Andre Bergeron
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

Likely Philadelphia lineup

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James Van Riemsdyk - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Bead - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Harrison Zolnierczyk - Sean Couturier - Zac Rinaldo

Matt Carle - Matt Walker
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andreas Lilja - Andrej Meszaros

Ilya Bryzgalov
Segei Bobrovsky
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