NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers vs Florida Panthers
Flyers (4-6-0) vs Panthers (3-5-1), 7 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
You know, this winning thing is quite fun.
The Philadelphia Flyers have followed a three-game skid with back-to-back victories. On Thursday night, they receive a visit from the Florida Panthers. Philadelphia’s offense has looked horrid at times, and has looked very strong at times. During the first meeting between these teams on January 26th, the offense was at one of those strong times, exploding for seven goals, including first career hat trick from Matt Read. Florida is allowing 3.67 goals per contest, which is tied for second-worst in hockey, so the Flyers will look to build off of their recent success.
Despite the lopsided 7-1 outcome, the Flyers cannot overlook the Panthers. They are a much different team than from January 26th, winning two of their last three contests. Just like the Flyers, the injury bug has bitten Florida, but it seems there has been a cure lately. The team received both former Flyer Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss back from injuries, making their offense depth much more lethal. They also will have defenseman Erik Gudbranson back from a shoulder injury, which will be a tremendous boost to a struggling blue line.
Between the Pipes
Are there any doubts? Once again, Ilya Bryzgalov will be in the cage for the Flyers, a place that he has been extremely comfortable in. Bryzgalov has posted a 1.85 GAA to go along with a .935 SV% during the last six contests. In his career against Florida, Bryz holds a record of 5-1-1 with a 1.40 GAA and .948 SV%. He’s Bryzgalov, he’s really good. Really, really good.
Florida will go with Jose Theodore, who has struggled this season. On the year he has a GAA of 3.33 and a save percentage of .896. The goaltending situation is a bit of a headache for Florida. Theodore owns a record of 14-11-1 against the orange and black.
Keys to Win
- Don’t look back: Yes, the Flyers handled the Panthers with ease a few weeks ago, but they cannot sleep on them. Florida is a much better, healthier team since then. Forget about the first meeting, because the lineups aren’t nearly the same. Think about Thursday night and study these Panthers.
- Continue to help Bryz: The Flyers have been getting in front of shots left and right, blocking 40 over the last two contests. Keep getting in shooting lanes and getting sticks on pucks. It’ll make Bryzgalov’s job a heck of a lot easier.
- Wayne Simmonds is doubtful for Thursday night due to a concussion. Again, there is no timetable for his return.
- Alex Kovalev will be a healthy scratch for this game.
- Both Jonathan Huberdeau and Brian Campbell are on three-game point streaks.
- Flyers Tom Sestito has more goals than Phil Kessel and Jarome Iginla on the year, so there’s that.