Better With Popcorn

Flyers Look to Warm Up in Florida

The Matchup:

Philadelphia Flyers (1-3-0) at Florida Panthers (1-3-0)
BankAtlantic Center — Sunrise, FL
7:30 p.m. on CSN

Setting the Stage:

The Flyers finally got their first win on Thursday in an important 2-1 victory over the Rangers. They out-worked and out-played the Rangers for the full 60 minutes, even when they were on a 5-on-3 penalty kill for a full two minutes late in the third. The first win was huge, especially with all the injuries they've had to endure, the latest being Andrej Meszaros (shoulder).

Florida is coming off another terrible performance against the Senators for their third straight loss after winning their first game. They lost 3-1, getting dominated throughout the entire game and out-shot 37-26. They find themselves in the same slow start as the Flyers, riddled with injuries to their top line of Kris Versteeg, Thomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss.

What to Expect:

The Flyers will need to build off of the win on Thursday. If there was anybody else in net other than Henrik Lundqvist the Flyers would have scored at least five goals. It was an offensive outburst that lifted Philadelphia off the ground after having problems scoring in their first three games.

The Flyers were noticeably more physical in that game was well. The fourth line of Eric Wellwood, Tom Sestito and Jody Shelley played exceptionally well, keeping the puck in New York's defensive zone whenever they were out on the ice. Other forwards like Max Talbot, Scott Laughton, Tye McGinn and Sean Couturier stepped up their physical game big time after being invisible on Tuesday.

Florida's struggling to score early in the season as well. They've scored only seven goals through their first four games (the Flyers have five). Two of the team's seven goals have come from defenseman Brian Campbell, who has a team-high four points.

The absence of Versteeg, Fleischmann and Weiss has been made evident, and it could really hurt Florida again tonight. They are getting no spark from their current group of forwards and they have been putting a lot of strain on goalies Jose Theodore and Scott Clemensen early on.

The Masked Men:

PHI: Ilya Bryzgalov. FLA: Jose Theodore.

Bryzgalov is playing fantastic hockey right now, serving as the Flyers only consistent top performer as of late. He stopped 18 shots on Thursday, a third of them coming in the third period in which New York was pressing hard to tie the game up.

On the year, Bryzgalov is 1-3-0 with a 2.52 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Theodore has been playing his butt off for the Panthers early. He has faced a blistering 115 shots through three games. He has allowed only seven goals of those 115 shots, giving him a 2.35 GAA and an incredible .939 save percentage.

With the scoring still out for Florida, Theodore is going to have to be good again if he hopes to steal a victory from the Flyers.

Keys to the Game:

1. Traffic up front. The Flyers scored both their goals on Thursday by having traffic in front of Lundqvist. If they keep winning the puck battles in the corners and throwing the puck on net, they will continue to score.

2. Rookie play. Scott Laughton had himself another very good game against the Rangers. He was physical in front of both nets and was winning all of his puck battles along the boards and one-on-one. This will be his fifth and final game before the Flyers decide to keep him up with the team or send him back to juniors so they don't burn a year off his contract.

3. Knuble returns. It's going to be interesting to see how much Mike Knuble will play tonight, and with what line. Knuble could very easily be matched up with any of the following forwards: Brayden Schenn, Couturier, Laughton, or McGinn.