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NHL Predictions: Lightning Plan to Reset Against Flyers

Tampa Bay Lightning Predictions

Today’s NHL Predictions features an Eastern Conference matchup. We will look at Tampa Bay Lightning (23-18-5) predictions, as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers (25-16-6). On Sunday night, the Lightning had their five-game win streak snapped by the Detroit Red Wings. The Lightning were dominated by the Red Wings throughout the first two periods. However, the Bolts pieced together a solid third period. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough to extend the win streak.

On the other side of this matchup, the Flyers have shocked the hockey world with their performance this season. Fans predicted Philadelphia to be a lottery team and set their aspirations on a high draft selection. However, John Tortorella had different plans for the Flyers. Breakout performances from Owen Tippett and Joel Farabee have contributed to the success of the Flyers. Furthermore, the return of Sean Couturier has added a stable presence on both ends of the ice.

Tampa Bay must reset after suffering their first loss in a while. Jon Cooper has no reason to press the panic button or switch line combinations. The Lightning’s playoff hopes have skyrocketed over the past two weeks, and they will make necessary trades at the upcoming deadline. Here are three keys to victory for the Lightning in this matchup.

NHL Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Philadelphia Flyers

Three Keys to Victory for Tampa Bay

Avoid Turnovers at All Costs

When reviewing Tortorella’s teams over the years, a common trend is mistake-free hockey. The Flyers do not overcomplicate their play and make low-risk decisions with the puck. Data tracked by Corey Sznajder at All Three Zones backs up this claim. The Flyers rank last in puck retrievals per hour and eighth in botched retrievals per hour. In other words, the Flyers execute turnover-free breakouts.

When the Flyers get trapped in the defensive zone, they play hot potato with the puck to avoid mistakes. The data backs this claim up once again with Sznajder’s findings. Philadelphia ranks 31st in exits with possession per hour and 29th in zone exits per hour. The Flyers generate their chances by creating turnovers and attacks on the rush through the neutral zone.

The Lightning must avoid turnovers in the neutral zone against the Flyers. Philadelphia ranks fifth in rush shots off turnovers. Tampa Bay can negate the source of the Flyers offence through efficient puck management.

Finish The High-Danger Chances

While the Flyers are a solid 5v5 team, we came across an underlying weakness in their line of defence. The Flyers goaltending is not elite at saving high-danger shots. Philadelphia ranks 20th in high-danger save percentage at 5v5 (80.5 SV%). The Lightning must execute on the limited amount of high-danger chances the Flyers will give up.

As for Tampa Bay, they have a group with superb finishing ability. Steven StamkosBrayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov can score 50 goals a season. The key to victory is burying those chances when the Lightning get them. If the Lightning fail to execute their high-danger opportunities, Philadelphia will find ways to out-score the Lightning through the counter-attack.

High-Danger Passes … Once Again

The Lightning faces another opponent that struggles to defend high-danger passes. The Flyers allow 3.846 high-danger passes per hour via All Three Zones. This rate ranks 9th-worst in the league this season. In two recently tracked games against the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings, the Lightning control 57.89% of the passes to the slot, 62.5% of the cross-slot passes, and 85.71% of the goal-line passes. 

We would not stress the importance of high-danger passes as a key to victory if the Lightning could not execute these plays. However, the Lightning have found those touches frequently throughout their five-game win streak. Once again, the Bolts must find these plays in the offensive zone.

Prediction Time

The Lightning and Flyers meet for the first time this season at Wells Fargo Center. The Lightning remain without Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak on the blue line. While the depth from the American Hockey League has filled their role nicely, the Lightning may take interest in some players on the other side of this matchup. Nick Seeler and Sean Walker may be available for trade come deadline hours. Until then, we anticipate an exciting game in Philadelphia with the Flyers grabbing two points. 

Prediction: Philadelphia wins 3-2


Microstats via LastWordOnSports (Jack Pallotta and Kyle Pereira)

On-Ice Statistics via NaturalStatTrick

Microstats via AllThreeZones

Main Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports


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