Flyers Say They’ll Treat Tampa Trap The Same

10 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Tampa Bay Lightning are a trap game. No wait, the Tampa Bay Lightning play a trap game. A few years ago, the former would have been true, but now it’s the Lightning who are circled on the calendar, not passed over on the way to playing an elite team. Even if they are only four points better than the basement dwellers of the Eastern Conference, sleeping on Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos is a mistake.

Last time the two teams met, the Flyers found a new way of avoiding Tampa’s trap defensive scheme. They stood pat…quite literally. They didn’t advance the puck out of their defensive zone unless a Lightning player forechecked and some in the hockey community found that infuriating.

The argument was made on both sides — some said that Tampa was unnecessarily slowing down the game, others that the Flyers were making a mockery of a legitimate strategy.

In the end, the Lightning struck last, in overtime, when Brett Connolly scored from close range for the 2-1 win.

But the game was overshadowed by the strategy. And if it happens again, the Flyers won’t change a thing.

“Typically we don’t like to announce our game plan for the opponent to the newspaper,” said Peter Laviolette with a wry smile, “but we might sit there for four or five minutes at a time. We might.”

The Flyers clearly wanted no part in the 1-3-1 formation, but say that it’s not that the trap is hard to play against.

“I wouldn’t say so,” said Braydon Coburn. “It’s a strategy they use. Obviously they got to the conference finals last year, right? Every team’s got a different style of play. They have some great players and that’s their style.”

So what makes Tampa’s system that different from the one that New Jersey played with for years and the Flyers struggled with?

“They’re a little more patient with it,” said Coburn.

With four straight victories, the Flyers have streamlined their way to the top of the Eastern Conference. But one thing they’re making clear: they won’t be patient with the Tampa trap.

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