Game Day: Flyers / Panthers
The Flyers have won five in a row and are coming off a good win against the NY Rangers that saw Nikolay Zherdev net two goals,one on a breakaway and the other on the power play.
He is starting to make a difference on this team with his four goals in his last three games and his thirteen goals so far this season. If you would like to read the recap of the Flyers Rangers game you can read it here.
The Panthers are coming off a 6-2 win versus the Buffalo Sabres which snapped their two game losing streak. The Panthers scored four first period goals to by Marty Reasoner.
This is the second of four meetings between these two teams, the first one was taken by the Flyers in the way of a 5-2 win. Giroux and Richards both recorded two goals as Sergei Bobrovsky picked up the win turning away 34 of 36 Panther shots.
The Panthers are 11-5-1 versus the Flyers since the 2006-2007 season. The Flyers will be looking for their sixth straight win tonight before heading into the long Holiday break. Look for Zherdev to keep up his strong play, his two goals against the Rangers ties his career high for goals in a game, he has done that nine times in his career.
With Zherdev playing the way he is the Flyers now have three solid lines with JVR, Richards, Nodl - Leino, Briere, Hartnell and Zherdev, Giroux, Carter. Look for Alex Frolov as he has been hot lately notching five goals in his last six games. He also leads the team in goals with eight and in points with nineteen.
The Flyers are 16th in the league in power play percentage coming in at 16.8% which is not that great but much better than the Florida Panthers who show up in last place with a 9.6% success rate.
When it comes to the penalty kill Florida fairs a little better with a ranking of ninth and a 83.8% kill rate. The Flyers come in at the 12th spot with a 82.8% kill rate.
The Flyers still hold the second spot in goals for per game with 3.41 while the Panthers fall in at the 20th position with 2.60 goals per game.
In The Nets
Looks like the Flyers will go with Sergei Bobrovsky (15-4-3) 2.32 GAA tonight against the Panthers. He picked up the win in the November 13th victory. He has only played once in the last eleven days so he should be fresh and ready to go.
Looks like Michael Leighton will suit up for the first time this season for the Flyers as Bobrovsky's backup.
The Florida Panthers will go with Thomas Vokoun (12-12) 2.48 GAA tonight.His numbers against the Flyers in Philly are not great, he is 2-4-0 with a 3.79 GAA. In his last game on Friday night versus the Sabres, Vokoun turned away 41 of 43 shots backstopping Florida to a 6-2 victory.
Tonight is a big game for the Flyers and their last one before they go on an eight break over the Christmas Holiday. Mentally they need to show up tonight and not take this Panthers team too lightly.
Florida has been a tough team of late and has been playing up to their higher ranking opponents. This is where the Flyers need to play at the level they have over the last three games when they faced tough Eastern Conference matchups.
If they play down to the Panthers level the Flyers could be in for a tough night as the Panthers have not had any issues scoring lately. In Florida's last two games they have recorded nine goals.
Tonight also marks game two WOP (without Pronger) and the Flyers defense will need a repeat performance from Saturday's win against the Rangers. The Flyers lead the league in points by five, their largest lead since the 1986-1987 season.
During their eight days off the Flyers will probably surrender that lead as the Penguins and the Red Wings will play three and four games respectively. The key is to grab this win tonight and go into the break on a high note and try to maintain their current level of play during this long break.
The Flyers have had issues in the past coming off long breaks . Last season the team was playing well before the All-Star break and came back from that break struggling to find their game.It is tough for a team playing so well with a lot of emotion to take a break like this and come back with the same intensity they went into the break with.
As for tonight let's hope mentally this team isn't already on Holiday.
Step Up Players
Bobrovsky, Briere, Bartulis