Tampa Bay’s win over Boston on Wednesday means the Flyers need to win both of their remaining round-robin games to claim the East’s No. 1 seed.
Even if they earn just one point, they’d still move up from the fourth seed which they entered this funky little tournament.
But finishing in the top-two in the conference would seem prudent since the conference’s third-seeded team would get Carolina in the first round. The fourth seed will draw Pittsburgh if the Penguins can get past Montreal. That series was tied heading into Wednesday night’s Game 3. Carolina looked quite impressive sweeping the Rangers.
The Flyers will play Washington on Thursday and Tampa Bay on Saturday. Boston vs. Washington on Sunday concludes the round-robin schedule. The Bruins, which were cruising to the No. 1 seed when the stoppage occurred, cannot earn the top seed. Through Wednesday, here are the standings:
Tampa Bay, 4 points, 1 game remaining
Flyers, 2 points, 2 games remaining
Washington, 1 point, 2 games remaining
Boston, 0 points, 1 game remaining.
Regular-season points percentage will be used to break ties.
Here are some observations off Tampa’s 3-2 win over Boston.
How’d the Lightning look? Blew a two-goal lead for the second consecutive game but rebounded when Tyler Johnson scored with 87 seconds remaining. Tampa Bay has played well at the start of its two round-robin games, but sluggish for the second halves.
Vas different. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has led the league in wins the last three regular seasons, but he has not been especially sharp in the first two games. He should have saved Boston’s first goal (by Charlie McAvoy) and let a few others trickle past him which stayed out.
Keep his word? Lightning coach Jon Cooper said earlier this week that he wanted to get backup goalie Curtis McElhinney some work in the round robin. Saturday against the Flyers is his last chance. McElhinney started four playoff games last year for Carolina, and beat the Flyers twice during the 2018-19 regular season. He did not face Philadelphia this season.
Quotable. “We’re treating it as if it’s do or die right now,” said Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman. “Seeding still matters, and obviously the teams that are competing in the qualifiers are going to be ready. It’s really on us to treat it the right way, and if you don’t you’re going to be behind the eight ball.”
Hail to the Victor. Top defenseman Victor Hedman had his second strong game for the Lightning. The Norris Trophy finalist joined the team late in Toronto, but has shown no rust. Interesting that Cooper scratched Zach Bogosian, Hedman’s partner in the first round-robin game, and replaced him with Jan Rutta.
No Stamkos. Lightning captain Steve Stamkos (lower-body injury) again did not play.
That’s not Good. Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow drilled Boston’s Anders Bjork with a vicious elbow to the head that could be subject to supplemental punishment by the league.