Game Day: Flyers / Panthers
After blowing a three goal lead in the third period on Saturday night to the Thrashers , the Flyers will take on a team that has always given them fits.
The Panthers are out of the playoff race but still continue to play hard, picking up points in four of their last five with their two most recent being wins.
This will be the fourth and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Flyers are 2-1 versus the Panthers in their three previous matchups. The Flyers won their most recent matchup 4-2 on Feb 16 leading 3-0 after two periods.
This game will make for an interesting special teams matchup as the Flyers have the edge with the man advantage with an 17.2 percent success rate. The Panthers have a success rate of 13.2 percent good for 29th out of 30 teams.
The Panthers actually have a better penalty kill percentage than the Flyers . The Panthers have an 84.8 percent kill rate, good for sixth in the league, while the Flyers are in the tenth spot with an 83.3 success rate.
With these kind of numbers don't expect too much offense with the man advantage for either of these teams. The Flyers lead the league in short handed goals with 12.
The Flyers are 39-26-7 versus the Panthers all-time, they are 23-11-1 on the road in Florida. The last time the Flyers lost to the Panthers was the 5-0 shutout just before the holiday break. Stephen Weiss leads the Panthers in points with 45 while David Booth leads the team in goals with 21.
Booth has scored a goal in four of his last five games. The Panthers have the edge in goal tonight with Thomas Vokoun, he is 21-24 with five shutouts and a 2.60 GAA.
At the time of writing this blog the Flyers have yet to announce their starting tender for tonight's game. It would be a wise move to give Bobrovsky the start as he was good for most of the Thrasher game, he needs to get that out of his head and a strong outing tonight would be a good start.
The Philadelphia fans have been excited this year about their sports teams with the Flyers being in first place for most of the season and the Phillies entering spring training with arguably on paper the best rotation in years.
The hopes of the fans in the City of Brotherly love have been put on hod once this spring as Chase Utley is suffering from Knee problems and may be out a while putting doubt in what everyone thought would be an automatic trip to the World Series.
Now the Philly faithful will possibly see their Flyers team finish the season without their biggest leader Chris Pronger. He is getting surgery to fix a fracture in his hand and will be out three to four weeks and possibly more.
This comes at a bad time for the Flyers as they are having mental lapses late in the game in their defensive zone. Turnovers and these mental lapses have made this team look clueless at times late in the game or period. It will be a challenge for this team to fight through this stretch and get back to playing like they were earlier in the season.
A situation like this can bring the team and defense together with the emergence of new leaders and new voices who may have sat back a watched Pronger lead the room. Look for the leadership to come from guys like Timonen , Meszaros and O'Donnell despite his play lately.
The one thing that Paul Holmgren has been praised for this season is the depth he has assembled on offense and defense. Picking up Boynton off waivers has turned out to be a really big move and could provide the help to keep this team on top of the conference.
Erik Gustafsson has been called up from the Phantoms and is not expected in the lineup tonight, his second call up this season.
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