What’s with the Flyers having to face the Panthers before long breaks? Last season, as we were rolling through everybody, there was a meeting with Florida right before the holiday break. Clearly the Flyers were thinking ahead to their vacation plans, because they got rolled 5-0. It turned out to be an early sign of trouble for last years team. It foreshadowed the teams biggest problem: motivation. The only thing that could stop last season’s team was complacency, and that’s what lead to their downfall.
This team is not as dominant as last years squad. This team is still very fun to watch, but they’re just different. And that’s exactly what management wanted when they made a ton of roster moves in the offseason. The team wins, but you don’t really see them taking anything for granted. They’ve had struggles and looked sluggish, but it’s not like they have had some huge lead in the standings at any point and they just sat back and enjoyed it. Anyway, we’ll see if this team has the mental strength to show up tonight, or if they’re already thinking of rollin’ down to South Beach after the game.
The Panthers aren’t exactly a great team, but they aren’t as horrible as they’ve been the last few seasons. They started off this season pretty well, but have been sliding lately. Lucky for them, their entire division continues to suck, and they still sit in first place. Until beating Winnipeg in a shootout on Saturday, they had been losers of 4 straight. And earlier this season we beat them 3-2. Going into this game, we can’t be looking forward to them taking a night off, because they still have another game tomorrow before their break begins.
The other factor working against us is that we’re coming off an emotional game against Boston, and now facing an opponent we really don’t care as much about. There’s no bad blood to get the Flyers going tonight; not yet at least. Then again, it’s not all that bad. Due to all of the injuries, we’ve got a ton of rookies and younger players in the lineup. Young guys should be hungry to prove that they belong in the NHL. So maybe we don’t come out flat, trying to just get this game over with. Maybe we do look at this as an opportunity to move closer to the Rangers and Bruins in the standings.
Finally, there’s the question of who is in net tonight. I’m gonna take a guess and say it will be Bryzgalov. I just have a feeling that he’ll be getting more and more starts with the hope that he starts playing better. They’re not going to shelve him, so might as well try building up his confidence by giving him more starts. And after another poor game against Boston, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind getting right back in and trying to go to break on a high note.
Update: I misread the Panthers schedule. They do not have any more games until after the All-Star break. So there goes that motivating factor.
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