Flyers Look to Get Rolling in Tampa, Powe Returns

The Philadelphia Flyers will try once again to salvage some kind of victory before Christmas. They will try in Tampa tonight when they host the Lightning. This is the second of four meetings between these two teams where the Flyers put a stomping on the Bolts back on Nov. 2, 6-2. Captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter each netted a pair of goals.

A win would really help both of these teams. Starting with the Flyers (15-18-2) who have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL so far this season because of the preseason expectations. The Lightning (13-14-9) have fallen to 11th in Eastern Conference whereas the plummeting Flyers are 14th. Obviously, in the Flyers case, two points would be the best gift anybody could hand them.

The Flyers captain has been quite outspoken lately during this free fall in the standings know how important this game is; however, they can’t treat it any differently than any other game.

“We’re approaching it as another game but it’s a game that, before the break with the couple days off, we obviously would like to win,” Philadelphia captain Richards said. “It’s a big game for us to try and get our team on track. Whenever you get the opportunity to get a win, it’s big for us. We’re kind of looking at it as a little bit bigger than normal.”

“(A win) is definitely something that we need at this point. It would be very nice if we can finish on a good note and go into the break with a win,” added Danny Briere. “Hopefully we can reenergize and refocus because those last two or three weeks have been extremely tough.”

Philadelphia are 2-7-1 in their last 10 and coach Peter Laviolette would love to get the wins rolling starting tonight in Tampa. In order for this Flyers team to be successful again, they must find a way to get the puck in the net more than once. They’ve been held to one goal or less in eight of their last 12 games.

“I look at our team and we’re having a hard time scoring goals right now,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said, “and I look at our roster and wonder why.”

It has become quite stunning how players such as Richards, Carter, Briere, Scott Hartnell, and Chris Pronger haven’t been able to consistently find the back of the net.

This Flyers team have been known to have a pretty impressive and effective special teams unit, except over the past month they’ve been one fo the worst in the league both on the man advantage and the penalty kill. This has to change fast because the Lightning have been putting up goals and have some hot players coming into tonight’s contest.

Ryan Malone has registered six point sin two game including four (2G, 2A) in Monday’s game against the Islanders. Second year sensation Steven Stamkos has four goals in as many games while Vincent Lecavalier has seven points in his last four (3G, 4A).

Returning tonight for the Flyers will be center Darroll Powe. The center has missed the past 16 games with a shoulder injury is looking forward to jumping back into things. Powe is also excited to finally get a chance to contribute to coach Laviolette’s aggressive system.

“(Laviolette) plays an aggressive style and system, and that fits my game nicely,” said Powe this morning. “I’m antsy to get out there and see how I fit in.”

“It will be good to get him back in there with his speed and his aggressive style,” said the coach. “It just gives us, I think, a real good balance and real good depth on the four lines.”

Powe has six goals in 19 games this season and will try to provide an added spark to this lineup. Powe is one of the fastest, if not, the fastest skater on the and it will be interesting to see how quick he fits back in.

“I still think we need to play the game faster than what we’re doing right now. You get guys like Betts and Powe back in, who can really skate, I think that strengthens the identity that you’re trying to create,” he said. “We’re not there yet. At times during games, we’ve shown it. There wasn’t a whole lot of it last game.

Goaltender Brian Boucher seems to be heeling quite quick. Boucher who suffered a lacerated finger Monday against Florida should return between the pipes on Dec. 26 when the Flyers face the Carolina Hurricanes. Michael Leighton will get the start tonight in Tampa.

Coach Laviolette is looking forward to trying to fix the issues that have haunted his team over the past month and he preaches work ethic and consistency. He wants the players to start having confidence and with confidence comes wins.

“We’ve got to let loose on the ice and I think sometimes you are carrying around everything else that goes with you and we have to drop all that, and play a better game that is more creative,” he said. “We just seem to be weighed down by what’s going on. We need to drop that.”

Quotes: Philadelphia Flyers

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