Meeting in Philly
Rick Tocchet hopes a return visit results in his first road win as Lightning coach when his team takes on the Flyers on Tuesday.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sports Interaction have made Philadelphia -191 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 55% of bets for this game have been placed on Philadelphia -191 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Since Melrose was fired on Nov. 14, Tampa Bay (6-10-7) has continued to struggle, going 1-3-3 under Tocchet. The Lightning have won only once in 10 games overall, including five straight road losses, since a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Nov. 8.
That came when Tocchet was an assistant to Melrose, and now the interim coach is hinting at major changes after Tampa Bay's fourth straight loss on Saturday, 4-3 in Colorado.
"We had five or six guys lay eggs," Tocchet said. "This is a result-oriented business, and they're not getting the job done."
He could start with his defense as the Lightning have allowed three goals or more in nine of their last 10. The one game in which they didn't was also the only win in that span, 4-1 over Nashville on Nov. 21.
Olaf Kolzig was pulled from a second straight start Saturday after giving up three first-period goals. Mike Smith made 20 saves but took the loss when he let in a shot with 4:29 remaining.
On Nov. 23, Kolzig surrendered five goals in the first 32 minutes in a 7-3 loss to New Jersey. The former Vezina Trophy winner carries a 1-4-1 record and a 4.11 goals-against average.
Smith has also slipped after beginning the season 3-2-2 with a 2.07 GAA. In his past 10 appearances, he has gone 2-4-4 with a 2.51 GAA.
In the Nov. 8 win, Smith stopped 35 shots, improving to 2-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA lifetime versus the Flyers.
Vincent Lecavalier leads the Lightning with 10 goals and 20 points, and is on a seven-game point streak heading into Tuesday's game. However, the production of top winger Martin St. Louis has lagged and No. 1 draft pick Steven Stamkos has not contributed much.
St. Louis has five goals and 17 points through 23 games this season. He had 29 points at this juncture last season and had 28 in 2006-07, when he posted career highs of 43 goals and 102 points.
Stamkos has three goals and seven assists, but registered a goal and an assist in Saturday's game.
Lecavalier has eight goals and 25 points in his past 21 games versus the Flyers while St. Louis has scored eight times with 18 assists in his last 16 against them as Tampa Bay has gone 13-3-0.
After a recent six-game win streak, Philadelphia (11-7-5) has dropped two straight, including a 4-2 loss Saturday at Toronto despite outshooting the Maple Leafs 30-27.
"I thought we hung in there," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "I thought we played hard and with a lot of energy and I thought we created enough chances to win. We just didn't find the net."
Philadelphia has scored two goals in consecutive games after netting three or more in each game during a 7-0-1 stretch.
Mike Richards got his first two-goal game of the season Saturday with Simon Gagne assisting on one of those. Gagne has recorded a point in 19 of 22 games and leads the team with 31.
Gagne has a point in each of the past four games against the Lightning, who have won six of seven in Philadelphia.
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Posted: 12/2/08 11:32 PM ET