3 Keys: Flyers vs. Lightning, round-robin Cup Qualifiers

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Flyers vs. Lightning

8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS

Philadelphia 2-0-0, Tampa Bay 2-0-0

The Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning will play for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in their final game in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Saturday.

The winner will play the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference First Round. The loser will be the No. 2 seed in the East for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which start Aug. 11, and play the winner of Game 5 of the qualifier series between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

Lightning forward Steven Stamkos will be out for the third straight game because of a lower-body injury sustained before training camp started July 13. His status for the start of the first round remains in question.

Flyers forward Jakub Voracek also will be out. He had one assist in the first two games.

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Here are 3 keys for the round-robin game:

 

1. Playing for No. 1

There won’t be the traditional home-ice advantage for the winning team, but there are some benefits to being the No. 1 seed, among them taking a three-game winning streak into the first round.

“For us, it’s all about gaining momentum going into the playoffs,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said Friday. “Having the first seed, you’re guaranteed the last change, you can get the matchups that you want a little bit better. That’s why we go into it with the mentality tomorrow to win the game.”

Of the four teams competing in the round-robin for playoff seeding in the East, the Flyers had the worst regular-season points percentage (.645), behind the Boston Bruins (.714), Lightning (.657) and Washington Capitals (.652).

“Just being No. 1, teams are going to be scared of us, and that’s what we want,” Philadelphia forward Connor Bunnaman said.

 

2. Flyers fixing their power play

Philadelphia is 0-for-8 with four shots on goal on the man-advantage in two games, and it won’t have Voracek, who was third on the Flyers during the regular season with 17 power-play points.

Coach Alain Vigneault said the power play was a focus of practice Friday.

“We’ve spent a great deal of time on it lately, and I think it’s just a matter of time here before we start executing the way we have to,” he said. “Coming into this, in our last 20 games or so (before the season was paused March 12), our power play had been one of the better ones in the League. So very confident that this group, whether Jake’s in or Jake’s out, will be able to get it done.”

 

3. Who is Hedman’s partner?

Victor Hedman, voted a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the best defenseman in the NHL, was paired with Zach Bogosian against the Washington Capitals on Monday and Jan Rutta against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

His partner against the Flyers remains in question, but Hedman said it isn’t something he is concerned about.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to making hockey reads and doing what I do best, which is skating and using my speed and reach out there,” he said. “I’m going out there to play my game; doesn’t matter who I play with.”

 

Flyers projected lineup

Claude GirouxSean CouturierJoel Farabee

Scott LaughtonKevin HayesTravis Konecny

James van RiemsdykDerek GrantNicolas Aube-Kubel

Connor Bunnaman — Nate ThompsonTyler Pitlick

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen

Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers

Shayne GostisbehereJustin Braun

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Morgan Frost, Oskar Lindblom, Mark Friedman, Robert Hagg, Andy Welinski, Egor Zamula, Alex Lyon, Kirill Ustimenko

Unfit to play: Michael Raffl, Jakub Voracek

 

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatBrayden PointNikita Kucherov

Alex KillornAnthony CirelliTyler Johnson

Barclay GoodrowYanni GourdeBlake Coleman

Pat MaroonMitchell StephensCedric Paquette

Victor Hedman — Zach Bogosian

Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevKevin Shattenkirk

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Mathieu Joseph, Carter Verhaeghe, Alexander Volkov, Braydon Coburn, Jan Rutta, Luke Schenn, Scott Wedgewood

Unfit to play: Steven Stamkos

 

Status report

Farabee will play in Voracek’s spot on the Flyers’ top line. … Van Riemsdyk will return for Philadelphia after he was scratched against Washington on Thursday. … Gostisbehere will replace Hagg after being scratched the first two games.

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