After a loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday, the Flyers will try to steal a victory from another team in the sunshine state. But this is a much bigger game for the Fly Guys as Vinny Lecavalier faces his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time this year.
Lecavalier is expected to be welcomed warmly back at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, as it was not his decision to move away from the only NHL team he played for before the Flyers. The Lightning decided to buy out his contract to make room in the salary cap and become a more competitive team. The trade has seemed to be good for both sides thus far. Lecavalier, although having to deal with a head coaching change early in the season and an injury that caused him to miss four games, is playing a critical role on the Flyers now. He leads the team with eight goals and is third on the team with 13 points. His experience and leadership on the ice has also been crucial to the Flyers’ recent success. The Lightning is doing just fine without their former captain as well. They are competitive in the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-8-1 and former Detroit center Valtteri Filppula, who was brought in to replace Lecavalier, is third on the Lightning with nine goals and 18 points.
Lecavalier, who is the Lightning’s all-time leader in goals scored and games played, is excited to return to his old stomping ground tonight. He spoke of today as being “special” even though he would be returning to the Forum with a different team, in a different locker room. He’s looking forward to playing against former teammates and friends, and in front of family.
The Bolts are also excited to be back at the Forum, hoping to have momentum from their 5-0 win over the Rangers on Monday. Prior to that victory, they had lost four straight in a West coast road trip against the Coyotes, Kings, Sharks, and Ducks. Additionally, the last four times the Lightning has had home-ice advantage, they have beat the Flyers by a combined score of 16-5.
Philadelphia on the other hand appears healthy and excited about improving upon their season. Look for Matt Read to contribute for the Flyers. He has four goals in the past three games, including a game winner against the Sabres last Thursday. Lecavalier will also be a strong presence on the ice as he tries to lead his new team to victory. Face-off is tonight at 7:30 pm at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.