Tampa Bay Lightning

Despite Kevin Hayes doing what he does best, Flyers lose to Lightning (and a cocky fan) in NHL 20

Despite Kevin Hayes doing what he does best, Flyers lose to Lightning (and a cocky fan) in NHL 20

The Flyers were set for a huge showdown March 12 against the Lightning at Amalie Arena before the NHL season was suspended that afternoon because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Both clubs were in the top six of the NHL standings prior to the league's stoppage. How would that matchup have played out?

We gave it a virtual whirl Thursday night as NBC Sports Philadelphia aired an NHL 20 simulation of the game with the dynamic trio of Jim Jackson, Keith Jones and Taryn Hatcher on the call.

After picking up victories over the Penguins and Rangers in the first two simulations, the Flyers finally dropped one with a 5-4 decision to the Lightning.

The Flyers had problems with Mikhail Sergachev (one goal, two assists) and Nikita Kucherov (one goal, one assist). They also had to deal with this rather cocky Tampa Bay fan.

Did this guy bring a whiteboard to the arena or 18 signs for every Flyers skater to possibly go to the box? It's kind of funny to see him telling Philippe Myers, a 23-year-old rookie, to retire.

"That's not very nice," Jones said of the JVR sign during the second period.

"He just held one up to you and I," Jones said later to Jackson.

Now that's crossing the line.


The Flyers had this gentleman pretty quiet when they raced out to a 2-0 lead during the first period behind goals from Ivan Provorov (power play) and Scott Laughton (shorthanded).

This season, Provorov leads all NHL defensemen with seven power play goals. Provorov even did his signature fist pump here, while this one Flyers fan clearly travels well.


To no surprise, Kevin Hayes led the shorthanded charge. Since 2016-17, Hayes owns 16 shorthanded points. Only one NHL player has more in that span — Brad Marchand with 19.

Hayes fed Laughton to cushion the Flyers' advantage. Laughton's teammates mobbed him in celebration.

With a second-period goal from Tyler Pitlick, the Flyers grabbed a 3-1 advantage but then Tampa Bay turned it on in a hurry.

Carter Verhaeghe trimmed the Flyers' lead to 3-2 before the Lightning stole the advantage in a 23-second span. Kucherov knotted the score on a nasty move and Alex Killorn handed Tampa Bay the lead with a tip-in tally.

Also, what is this thing?

Kucherov and Sergachev connected for a third-period dagger as the Lightning put 47 shots overall on Carter Hart.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored a greasy goal to pull the Flyers within one but they could never net the equalizer.

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NHL playoff odds: Flyers have best Stanley Cup odds for second consecutive week

NHL playoff odds: Flyers have best Stanley Cup odds for second consecutive week

From the last time a playoff odds post had been written, the Flyers still haven’t lost a game.

*knocks on wood*

The Flyers keep trending in the right direction with their season-best nine-game winning streak and the rest of the NHL has certainly taken notice.

This is the second consecutive Monday (March 9) in which the Flyers started off the week with the best odds to win the Stanley Cup, according to Moneypuck.com.

Now, they did drop from 12.7 percent to a whopping 12.6 percent, but there’s still no room for complaints here.

If anything, it’s important to note a few of the other top teams in the East and how different things look for them after another seven days.

On March 2, the Bruins’ odds were at 9 percent to win the cup. This was the second best in the East at the time, just below the Flyers. Their odds have dropped quite a bit, now sitting at 6.9 percent. It goes to show how quickly things can change in the NHL.

The Lightning have had a slight increase in their odds, moving from 7.4 percent to 8.8 percent.

Coming in at third in the East are the Capitals. Within the week, their odds have increased from 8 percent to 8.4 percent. This could mainly be because of their most recent win on Saturday over the Penguins, since their back-to-back games against the Flyers and Rangers both resulted in losses.

Now, just how reliable is this model? Let’s take a look at last season’s model at this point in the season:

The Blues had the second-best odds in the West and third-best overall to win the Cup. Only the Sharks and Lightning had better odds at the time.

What’s the biggest takeaway from comparing the two models a year apart?

This time last year the Flyers had a 4.36 percent chance to make the playoffs. Their chances now sit at an impressive 99.5 percent. Not too shabby.

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Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers didn't bring their A-game to a game they needed it.

There would be no giant killing Saturday as the Flyers lost to the Lightning, 5-3, at Amalie Arena.

Goals from Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux weren't enough for the Flyers (32-20-7), who are 6-3-2 against the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Penguins and Blues, the league's top five clubs.

Tampa Bay is the only one the Flyers haven't beaten. They'll get a final crack at the Lightning on March 12 in the same building.

The Lightning (39-15-5) have won 10 straight games.

• This really wasn't a bad loss for the Flyers.

They were at the end of a road trip and playing the NHL's hottest team. Tampa Bay is 22-2-1 over its last 25 games and hasn't lost at home since Dec. 19.

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 66.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com, and still hold an Eastern Conference wild-card spot (see standings).

Alain Vigneault's team just needs to recharge and be ready for a big home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets next week.

• Things got chippy in the second period. Travis Konecny was right in the middle of it all.

Steven Stamkos appeared to trip Giroux before a faceoff. Giroux didn't even look to be that mad about it.

During the final 6:09 of the middle frame, 22 penalty minutes were accrued.

• Brayden Point (10-game point streak) is good at hockey.

• Carter Hart, who was coming off his first road victory since Nov. 10, allowed four goals on 23 shots.

The 21-year-old wasn't the problem.

The first goal was a fluky one by Alex Killorn. On the second, Provorov was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and Tampa Bay capitalized to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.

In the middle stanza, the Lightning beat Hart on a 3-on-2 to grab a commanding 3-0 advantage. Tampa Bay improved to 33-4-3 when it scores three or more goals.

Not only are the Lightning really good, but the Flyers also didn't play their typical forechecking, possession-based game until it was too late.

• Outside of the van Riemsdyk's third-period goal, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong with 30 saves, 15 of which came in the final stanza. 

Vasilevskiy improved to 18-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over his last 19 starts.

• Provorov was far from his best against Tampa Bay but he did score the Flyers' first goal to trim the Lightning's lead to 3-1 in the second period. He also had an assist.

The 23-year-old has grown into a power play quarterback this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with seven man advantage goals after scoring only two over his first three NHL seasons.

• Travis Sanheim played 19:43 minutes Saturday after missing almost the entire third period of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Panthers because of a lower-body issue.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey and host the Blue Jackets Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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