NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Thursday night’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
After winning three of their last four games since firing Dave Hakstol and calling up prized goaltender Carter Hart, the Flyers will get a huge test out of the holiday break with a meeting with the Lightning.
The Flyers have used an NHL-high six goalies this season, but Hart is the one who could provide some normalcy in the position if they decide to keep him for the remainder of the season. Injuries have forced the carousel in net, but Philadelphia appears to have settled down after a wild week. Interim coach Scott Gordon is doing his best in a tough situation.
“You can coach the energy and the effort, but it’s really hard and fortunately with the group that we have here, they don’t force you to have to do that,” he said. “That’s a big piece. I told them that after the game and before the game that’s something that has to be our identity, making sure we bring that every night.”
The Flyers enter Thursday eight points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metropolitan Division. They were exactly eight points back of third place in the division last season after the Christmas break. Philadelphia then went 27-13-6 the rest of the way, finishing third and qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“A lot of guys got their confidence back,” said Nolan Patrick. “We’re rolling right now, so it feels good.”
The Lightning, meanwhile, won’t have an issue making the postseason. After going 10-0-1 in December, they sit atop the NHL with 28 wins and 58 points. The 58 points through 37 games are their most in franchise history, two points more than they had through 37 games last season when they also set a franchise record. They’re also tops in the league in both goals per game (4.08) and power play (28.9 percent).
After missing 14 games with a broken foot, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been fantastic in his return helping Tampa win three of his four starts and posting a .930 save percentage.
Rick Peckham (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will call Flyers-Lightning from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
A new episode of the critically-acclaimed Road To The NHL Winter Classic™ docuseries, which takes viewers inside the dressing rooms and homes of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks as they prepare to meet in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1., will debut on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, leading into coverage of Flyers-Lightning on NBCSN. An encore presentation will air at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN, immediately following coverage of Flyers-Lightning.