The NHL is set up with another solid night of action on Saturday afternoon. Two round robin games will be up on the board for August 8. One of these games will be between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. These two teams will battle it out for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. This game will start at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on NBC.
Philadelphia finished out the regular season with a record of 41-21-7, which has them battling it out in the round robin. The Flyers are 2-0 in round robin play after knocking off the Boston Bruins then the Washington Capitals. Philadelphia will look to lock up the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a huge win on Saturday.
The Lightning posted a record of 43-21-6 throughout the regular season, which had them in second place of the Eastern Conference. That is out the window now and Tampa Bay has a chance to earn the top spot in the East. The Lightning are also 2-0 throughout the round robin winning two tight ones with the Capitals and the Bruins.
These two teams will battle it out for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, which should lead to a great game on Saturday. Philadelphia and Tampa Bay both had great pushes right before the season paused and they will look to keep it going to finish out 3-0 in the round robin. I expect the Flyers and the Lightning to come out with the intensity of a playoff matchup as they look to clinch that top seed.
The first game of the season series was on January 11 in Philadelphia. Pat Maroon scored the lone goal for the Lightning in the second period. Carter Hart stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced, but it was not enough for Philadelphia. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away all 23 shots he saw to help give Tampa Bay a 1-0 win on the road.
The second game of the season series shifted to Tampa Bay on February 15. Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov both had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, but it was not enough. Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and an assist, while Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos both had two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of the 33 shots against him in the 5-3 win.
These two teams met up twice throughout the regular season. Each team got a home game, but Tampa Bay was able to win both games. The Lightning had the better season, but the Flyers turned it on late. If Philadelphia can keep up their strong play, they will have a chance to break through on Tampa Bay to earn the top spot in the East.
The Flyers had a strong special teams showing throughout the regular season. Philadelphia scored 47 goals on 226 power play opportunities, which was good for a 20.8 percent power play. The Flyers penalty kill was strong as well. Philadelphia held opposing teams to 38 power play goals on 209 chances, which is an 81.8 percent kill rate.
Tampa Bay also put up a strong special teams’ unit this season. The Lightning’s power play was able to capitalize on 49 of their 211 power play attempts, which was a 23.2 percent success rate. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was just as good. The Lightning held their opponents to 43 goals on 231 chances, which was an 81.4 percent penalty kill.
The Lightning have scored on 50 percent of their power play chances in their previous two games, while stopping 87.5 percent of their opponents’ power play chances. Philadelphia is 0-8 on the power play in the round robin, but has stopped all 8 power plays against them. The Flyers will look to get their power play rolling in this one, while stopping Tampa Bay’s power play.
Carter Hart will likely get the nod in crease for Saturday night’s matchup. Hart earned a record of 24-13-3 throughout the regular season. In those games, he put up a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.42. Hart earned a save percentage of .971 in his start against the Bruins, only allowing one goal. He will look to put up another strong performance on Saturday night to secure the Flyers spot as the top team.
I expect Andrei Vasilevskiy to get the start in net for Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Vasilevskiy put up a record of 35-14-3 throughout the regular season to earn a Vezina Trophy nomination. He posted a save percentage of .917 and a 2.56 GAA. In his two playoff starts, he has earned a .933 save percentage and a GAA of 1.92.
These two goalies have done really well for their respective teams this season. Hart has only played one of the round robin games, while Vasilevskiy has played in both of Tampa Bay’s games. Hart will look for that extra rest to come in handy as he helps fend off the Lightning’s strong offense. The Flyers will look to break through on Vasilevskiy early to give them the edge.
These two teams have earned strong 2-0 records throughout round robin play and the winner of this one will decide who has the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have come out hot in the round robin play, with two shocking wins over Boston and Washington. Tampa Bay has looked comfortable, but has been in closer games to start out their play in Toronto.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -128 against the money line in this matchup. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 56.1 percent of the time. I believe that this line is about right for this matchup. The Lightning are the better team this season and I believe they will give out a bigger challenge for Philadelphia. Even with Tampa Bay being the favorites in this one, I think they have the greater value.