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Flyers-Panther. Panthers-Flyers. Not the most exciting opponent we’re visiting tonight, but an important game anyway.

Thanks to the Chara hit last week, the hockey world is still buzzing about head shots and dirty hits. No doubt, the Richards hit on Booth will be rehashed tonight.  Maybe JJ, Jonesy and Coates won’t bring it up unless we see Booth going after Richards. Panthers fans will surely boo every time the captain touches the puck. They’ll be even more upset when he pancakes Vokoun and drives the puck into the net.

With Pronger down and out, this is the perfect opponent to establish a new identity. This team has to prove to themselves that they still know how to play. Floridais an inconsistent team, 11 points out of the playoffs, but still holding out hope. They’ve won 66% of their last 3 games, with an OT win against Tampa and a regulation W against Chi-town.  Before that, they’d lost 5 straight. Like I said, inconsistent. But with time working against them, they’ll be desperate tonight.

Two months ago, I would have called this an easy win. We know that nothing comes easy for this team anymore. Last time we saw the Panthers, we jumped out to an easy lead, nearly blew it, then locked up the game with an empty netter. I’m getting sick of these lapses, and I’m pretty sure the Flyers are too. Sure, they’ve been saying it after every game that they learned their lesson, they have to try harder, blah blah blah. After their latest collapse, I think they’re going to finally show it.

Florida is a team that we should be able to bully. And I think it’s time for us, as fans, to take a different approach towards each game.  No more looking at the big picture, and playoff standings, and everything else. Let’s look at each game as it’s own challenge, with it’s own goal. For this game, the goal should be airtight defense. We’re playing a team without any weapons that scare you. Lock them out, knock them down, take away their will to win. Don’t give them the blue line, punish them for taking an extra whack at Bob/Boosh. Can we please, please, PLEASE get a shutout? We still owe the Panthers a severe beat for that 5-0 game back in December.

Check out The Rat Trick for a view from the other side.

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Tags: Brian Boucher Chicago Blackhawks Chris Pronger David Booth Defense Florida Panthers Injured Mike Richards Philadelphia Flyers Sergei Bobrovsky Shutout Tampa Bay Lightning Team Goal Zdeno Chara

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