"I don't think it can translate into a playoff game, but it's probably the closest you're going to get to a playoff game," center Danny Briere said. "We owe these guys."
"They're a team that seems to have our number a little bit, and it's going to be a good measuring stick to see where we're at," winger James van Riemsdyk said. "They seem to capitalize on every turnover or mistake you make, so we have to limit our mistakes and focus on keeping the game simple and getting pucks to the net."
With his team atop the conference, coach Peter Laviolette doesn't think the Flyers need to look at an opponent as a measuring stick.
"But we're playing one of the top teams in the East," he said after Monday's practice in Voorhees, "and the fact we haven't put a win in the win column against them, that should motivate us."
The Flyers are coming off their fifth shutout of the season, a 1-0 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday.
In the previous four games after a shutout defeat, the Flyers are 2-2 and have averaged 4.25 goals per game.
The Flyers are atop the East with 77 points, four points ahead of second-seeded Tampa Bay, which has played one more game.
Tampa Bay, in Simon Gagne's emotional return to the Wells Fargo Center, scored a 3-2 win over the Flyers on Oct. 14. Brian Boucher was the losing goalie as former Flyer Steve Downie contributed a pair of assists.
A little over a month later, the Lightning chased rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky after he allowed four first-period goals in the visiting Lightning's 8-7 victory on Nov. 18. Steven Stamkos, who has emerged as the league's leading MVP candidate, led the way with three goals and two assists.
In the teams' last meeting, Bobrovsky was again replaced by Boucher - this time after he surrendered three first-period goals - as host Tampa Bay rolled to a 4-0 win on Feb. 1 despite being outshot, 38-22.
Ever since that loss at the St. Pete Times Forum, "we've kind of had this game circled on our calendar," defenseman Matt Carle said. "It's a potential playoff matchup, and you want to have some confidence going in and playing against them."
Breakaways. Laviolette would not announce his starting goalie. . . . After a one-game experiment, Laviolette will go back to his more traditional lines Tuesday. At Monday's practice, Mike Richards centered Andreas Nodl and Dan Carcillo. (With the addition of Kris Versteeg, that line could change.) Claude Giroux centered Jeff Carter and van Riemsdyk; Briere centered Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino; and Betts centered Darroll Powe and Nik Zherdev or Jody Shelley.
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at firstname.lastname@example.org.