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Schenn and Briere Back to Face the Tender Tampa Trap

Dec 27, 2011, 4:19 PM EDT

The Flyers are back in action this evening down in Tampa to take on the Lightning.

In their
first meeting with the Lightning this season, the Flyers employed a
stall tactic that was both comical and pot-stirring. It also didn’t
exactly work, as it slowed down one of the league’s best scoring teams
to the speed of a club that is barely hanging in there among the
Southeast Division. The Flyers lost the game, and we wondered how the
two teams might approach the rematch in Philly earlier this month.
Despite our going to the trouble of making this graphic, the game actually had some good pace and didn’t heavily feature the trap vs. the stall.

But the game was memorable… Although the Flyers won it by a 5-2
count, this was the night that struck us with the fear of god—when Wayne
Simmonds’ knee caught Claude Giroux’s head, and our superstar joined
the ranks of the indefinitely unavailable.

G returned relatively quickly, and was the star of the show down in
Dallas before the whole team went cold in New York. Tonight, another
concussee will rejoin the active lineup, with Brayden Schenn ditching
the non-contact sweater for the real deal. Danny Briere also returns
after missing a game with a bruised hand, restoring some semblance of
normalcy up the middle of the forward ranks.

Flyers/Tampa/NHL notes below. Speaking of concussions…

Did
you see that Shea Weber is the latest addition to the list? The name at
the top of so many Flyers fan wishlists when the news broke that Chris
Pronger was out for the season is now on the shelf indefinitely, though it’s presumed to be more of a Giroux variety than a Pronger. Just an
example of how hard it is to plan for the long-haul in the NHL right
now.

Sean Couturier is skating and traveled with the team, but no word on when he’ll be back. 

Frank Seravalli says James van Riemsdyk has a hip injury, which could be part of what’s slowing him down lately.

Bryz
is in goal tonight.
Saw a few headlines over the weekend about how he
hasn’t exactly delivered as an elite goalie, and how the Flyers may need
him to up his game if they’re going to be a legit contender. It
certainly wouldn’t hurt their ability to beat some of the better teams,
as we’ve recently seen Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist dominate for 60
minutes, giving their teams all the space they need to get a W over the
Flyers.

There may be a rough overall feeling after the Flyers were dropped
at Madison Square Garden, but they’ve had a lot of injuries to weather,
as well as a December spent mostly on the road. This week, they’ll play
in Tampa and Pittsburgh, bringing them to 10 road games versus just
three at home this month. They’ve lost three of their last four, but
those are their only three losses all month. Hopefully some home cooking
will have them right for January 2nd, when they won’t be in their own
barn, but the commute is the same…

It’s just a regular season game, but man if the Winter Classic doesn’t feel like the Super Bowl it’s lately been compared to.

The
Lightning have lost two straight and have also spent most of their
month on the road. They’ve won only three times in December, with two
coming after the regulation horn.

Mathieu Garon’s been getting the vast majority of the ‘ning starts.
Not sure who’s in net tonight, but he’s the safer bet. Last time we saw
the Lightning, they were without Martin St. Louis. He’s back now. 

This is yet another non-division team the Flyers don’t seem to get along with through the years, and we’ve seen some spikes in this season’s two meetings as well. Will we get some fun 24/7 footage?

Finally, if you’re reading this in Tampa and don’t like, live there… Hattricks isn’t a bad spot to hit up before the game.