When the Lightning hit the ice on Tuesday night, they will carry a 7-1-1 mark against the Flyers into Philadelphia since the hiring of their coach, Guy Boucher, in 2010.
It's been well documented that the Flyers and their aggressive system struggles against teams that run a disciplined, trapping defensive system. Last year's shocking playoff loss to New Jersey and 0-6 mark against the Rangers proved that to be the case.
The Flyers have tried to combat that by bringing in right-handed defensemen, such as Luke Schenn, Bruno Gervais and Kurtis Foster, to cut off a disadvantageous overloading of the left corner. Previously, the Flyers' six left-handed defensemen would have to scoop pucks out of the right corner on their defensive zone on their backhand - and were targeted by teams like the Devils and Rangers for that.
Last year, as we all remember, Peter Laviolette tried something different to stop Tampa Bay's passive-aggressive trap on Nov. 9, 2011. Previously, the Lightning hung back in the neutral zone, clogging up the middle of the ice and waiting for passes to pick off.
So, the Flyers sat back in their own zone -- and were penalized for it. It was one of the most memorable Flyers regular season games of the decade, a true stalemate with Chris Pronger and Matt Carle skating circles in their own zone with the puck, waiting for pressure.
It never came. Tampa Bay still won that game, 2-1, in overtime.
This year, Boucher's approach is different. The Flyers never really got a taste of it on Jan. 27, in their first meeting of the season, because they spent so much time in the box. But the disciplined, trapping function is largely gone.
"I think they’re a little bit different," Laviolette said, without going into deep specifics. "There’s some things different that they’re doing. They’ve always been talented, they always have those big guys on there that are capable offensively."
Just "capable" offensively is an understatement. Tampa Bay is averaging 4.88 goals per game, tops in the NHL by more than a goal. They also have the top power play at 36.1 percent, as the Flyers well found out with their two power play goals against.
Tampa Bay has three players (Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis and rookie Cory Conacher) in the Top 10 in scoring. The Flyers' leading scorer, Matt Read, has 7 points in comparison.
Danny Briere likened the Flyers' tough mark against Tampa Bay to just "some teams you don't know why that happens." He cited the Flyers' runs over the years against the Islanders and Atlanta.
"Even when we didn't play well, we still found ways to win," Briere said.
Whatever the Lightning have done against the Flyers, it's worked.
"They didn't use that system against us last time," Kimmo Timonen said. "Whatever they do shouldn't really matter to us. It's our home game. Whatever we do, we've got to make sure we come out fast. We've been off to a few slow starts, and that has to change."
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