Game 15: Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning Let the Pronging Resume

Game 15: Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning Let the Pronging Resume

Most of the news in the sporting world this week has had very little to do with the actual playing of games. Unfortunately, what little we had from the field of play was a crushing Eagles defeat on Monday Night Football, wherein the only thing keeping the door from slamming shut on our hopes for meaningful football in the coming months were our now bloody fingers.

That finally changes tonight when, after a seemingly long layoff, the Flyers are back in action as they begin a road trip in Tampa. As opposed to some of the shitful teams they've played lately, the Lightning are actually pretty good despite currently sitting in the middle of the Southeast Division standings. After a terrible start to the season saw them winning just one of their first six contests, Tampa have put together a fairly impressive run of late.

Fortunately, the Flyers appear to have weathered the storm of being without their top defenseman, as Chris Pronger is expected back in the lineup tonight.

It's hard to know what to expect with Pronger. We figured he'd miss a few games to start the season, and when he was announced in the opening night lineup, the safe assumption was that his minutes would be limited. Up until taking a stick to the eye, Pronger was playing a pretty full share. His eye is said to be fine now, but it remains to be seen whether his conditioning will hold him back at all.

After returning from a broken hand—a completely age-independent injury—last season, Pronger developed troubles with his back. We can only hope that isn't the case this season, as the Flyers defense has looked lost at times without him.

They'll need to have it together tonight, facing one of the most dangerous scoring units in the league.

Months of largely baseless speculation that the Flyers might obtain the rights of Steven Stamkos this summer should be all you need to know how good he is, if you somehow haven't seen that with your own eyes. He's pocketed 10 goals in 14 games this season, sharing the Lightning points lead with distributing defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron at 15 apiece.

Of course, the Lightning attack also boasts the talents of Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, and Ryan Malone. There's quite a dropoff after Malone's 10 points in the TB production, with the next highest scorer having only 5, and Malone is currently out of the lineup with a UBI. They're still a very dangerous team with the puck though.

Through 14 games, it's been hard to find former Flyer Steve Downie's name in the box score, unless you scroll down to the penalty minutes. He's still 7 PIM behind Zac Rinaldo (49), but he may try to play catchup tonight. Of course, Rinaldo will keep his lead if the two throw down, which we're kinda hoping to see happen.

Goaltenders are expected to be Ilya Bryzgalov and Dwayne Roloson.

Photo: Marc DesRosiers-US Presswire

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

The kid finally has his first NHL goal.

Travis Konecny scored at 4:30 of the third period (see video) during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Tuesday night (see story).  

His was the first of three power-play goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and get the Flyers into overtime.

First markers are always that much more special when they make a difference in a comeback victory, such as this one with the Flyers in a brutal stretch of six games in nine days.

“I am just excited that it happened,” Konecny said. “But the thing for me that was more exciting was coming back after that 3-0 [deficit] and an overall exciting night for us.”

The three power-play goals were a season high for the Flyers.

“We got going those two power plays ... our power plays set a tone,” Konecny said. “When that gets going, it makes it hard for the other team to stop us.

“It’s awesome because we know what they can do [on the top power-play unit]. They have been sticking with it and fighting the puck, whatever it’s been the past couple of games, but you know what they are capable of — you can see it the past couple of years. 

“You knew it was coming and tonight is the perfect night to get it going and I am sure that they are going to keep rolling with it.”

Schultz sits
The decision to sit 15-year veteran blueliner Nick Schultz to get Radko Gudas back into the lineup wasn’t easy but it made sense on several levels. Gudas had been suspended for six games.

First, Schultz doesn’t play on the power play, whereas Andrew MacDonald carries heavy minutes with the power play and penalty kill.

Brandon Manning? Not happening. He’s been the Flyers' best defenseman this season. Mark Streit? Doesn’t work because he quarterbacks the second-unit PP and is essentially teaching that duty to rookie Ivan Provorov.

“It’s real tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s part of the business and [Schultz has] done an excellent job. He’s always very well-prepared.

“We talked about what’s best for our team and we feel like Gudy going in, especially on a back-to-back, gives us fresh legs and a fresh body coming back into the lineup.”

Hakstol recently has had to switch around his defensive pairs to get more defensive coverage and consistency on the ice. For instance, moving Provorov from Streit to Manning.

He discounted Schultz’s age (34) as a true factor in the decision.

“I think the more flexibility you have, the better, whether it be for rest or for the injury situations,” Hakstol said. “First and foremost, I think we’re still looking for the true consistency that we need through our entire team, but certainly your D pairs are a big part of that. 

“Before we start getting to a comfort level of guys playing with different people, first we have to find true consistency. We’ve been pretty good, but we’ve had stretches where the consistency needs to improve, as well.”

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).