A different Flyers’ streak on the line in tough test at Tampa

Brian Elliott

VOORHEES – Going three weeks without a loss was a pretty impressive streak for the Flyers.

But as eye-catching as that nine-game run was, there’s an equally noteworthy one on the line when the Flyers visit Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

That is, the Flyers – coming off a 2-0 defeat by Boston — have not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 4-7, a span of 26 games.

It’s a testament to the Flyers’ resilience. Every time they lose, they seem to bounce back in spirited fashion.

Getting past the Lightning on their home ice no doubt will be tough. Tampa Bay is 22-10-2 at Amalie Arena and have lost three straight there, their last win coming on Dec. 29, 2017.

On the flip side, the Flyers have won three straight on the road and have improved their away mark to finally over .500 at 16-15-3.

“It (not losing two straight for over two months) is not easy to do in this league,’’ defenseman Justin Braun said after Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “Guys don’t dwell on losses.

“The ones we’ve had – the one against (New) Jersey (a 5-0 defeat on Feb. 6), I thought we came out and responded really well the next game.’’

Coach Alain Vigneault announced that Brian Elliott will start in goal. Elliott is 12-5-2 on the road.

The Flyers have lost two tight decisions to Tampa Bay this season and would like to avoid a season sweep.

“It’s a big game, they’re a great team,’’ Elliott said. “And a great team at home. You want to nip things (losing) in the bud. Make sure that you get back on the right track right away this time of year.’’

The Flyers are 8-5-1 against the likes of Boston, Washington, Tampa, St. Louis, Colorado and Vegas, so they’re confident they can play with anyone.

“They (the Lightning) have some really good skilled players,’’ Elliott said. “I think with our skill and our work we can take on any team in the league. I think if we play to our strengths, I think we’ll give ourselves a good chance.’’

Kevin Hayes believes the Flyers have a lot of resolve in these types of situations. His team is still in a close battle with Washington for the division lead and doesn’t want to give ground.

“Last night we went up against a good team that beat us,’’ Hayes said. “I think we’ve kind of figured out our problems quickly, watched a lot of film.

“I think we have the right coaches and the right leadership to overcome the loss and to make sure it doesn’t lead into kind of one after another after another.’’

Vigneault does take a lot of pride in preparation, especially after a loss.

“I think the start of November, us, Tampa and Boston have been the three top teams,’’ the coach said. “We’re playing them back-to-back, it was a great game yesterday. Our guys have been consistent lately – we’ve been able to make the other team pay. That’s what we’re going to need to do tomorrow.’’

 

>Thompson out with sprained knee

 

Vigneault announced that center Nate Thompson suffered a sprained left knee in the Boston game and will be lost for a couple weeks.

Rookie center Connor Bunnaman was called up from the Phantoms to replace Thompson, who was acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline.

In 21 previous games with the Flyers, Bunnaman was a plus-7, registering a goal and an assist. He had a strong enough training camp to make the opening night roster.

Bunnaman is expected to take Thompson’s vacated spot on the fourth line with Michael Raffl and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Also on Wednesday, the Flyers called up defenseman Mark Friedman from the Phantoms to serve as a spare for this one-game road trip. Friedman has played six games with the Flyers this season and has an even plus-minus.

Vigneault said Friedman might stick around awhile because some salary cap space was freed up by putting James van Riemsdyk (fractured finger) on long-term (injury list).

 

>Power-play time for Gostisbehere

 

With Shayne Gostisbehere out for the better part of two months, Travis Sanheim had been getting a lot of time on the second power-play unit. That changed on Tuesday night when Phil Myers began a one-month injury leave and “Ghost’’ returned to the lineup.

Look for more of that over the final dozen or so games.

“If he (Gostisbehere) is going to contribute in a positive way to the Flyers, it’s going to be as an offensive defenseman,’’ Vigneault said. “The puck-moving ‘D’. . .part of that is the power play.

“Travis has that potential, no doubt, he’s proved it, he’s come a long way this year. But you also have to be able to spread the ice time around.’’

 

>Streaks continue

 

Both Ivan Provorov and Claude Giroux are scheduled to play in their 316th straight games at Tampa. They can tie John LeClair (317 straight) for second place on the Flyers’ alltime ironman list in Saturday’s game vs. Minnesota and second all alone in Sunday’s game vs. Edmonton.

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 895 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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