February 7, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss (9) faces off against Philadelphia Flyers center Maxime Talbot (25) during the first period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers, Panthers Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers are less than an hour away from puck drop with the Florida Panthers. This is the first of three meetings between the two teams and the only one that will be played in Philadelphia. Here you can find Flyers tickets.

Tonight will be different as Craig Berube makes his coaching debut for the orange and black. The Flyers (0-3) are looking for their first win of the season against Tim Thomas and the Panthers (1-1). The Panthers won their first game of the season against the Dallas Stars by a score of 4-2. In their most recent outing against the St. Louis Blues, Thomas gave up five goals in a 7-0 loss.

The Flyers are no better off. Aside from the first period in the home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team has looked disorganized and lost. Berube said Monday afternoon he will bring a defensive style to the team along with better play away from the puck. It will take time for Berube’s system to take full effect, but a new voice may be the jolt the Flyers need.  During the morning skate, Berube made some changes to the forward and defense lines.

For the Flyers to win their first game of the season tonight, several items will be crucial.

Full 60

-The orange and black have a fresh start with Craig Berube, but that will not mean anything unless they start strong and end strong. Inconsistency plagued this team and a solid effort from every player will be a good sign the team is responding to Berube.

Five on Five

-Special teams will only go so far. Last season the Flyers were in the top ten in power play and penalty killing percentage, but their five-on-five play was atrocious. Luke Schenn has the only even-strength goal this season. Luke. Schenn.

Giroux needs to get going

-Captain Claude Giroux signed an eight-year, $66.2 million extension over the off season. He needs to show he is worthy of that kind of money. Giroux does not have a single point so far. He needs to step up and rally this team offensively. Tim Thomas will be a challenge for the Flyers. He is 8-0 with a 1.86 GAA and has a .947 save percentage in the regular season at the Wells Fargo Center, but he does not have the Boston Bruins defense in front of him. Giroux and the offense have to pressure Thomas.

Playing away from the puck

One of the biggest issues for the Flyers was players not competing as a team. Too many times, a forward skating into the offensive zone alone and trying to make a play by himself. Often times he turned the puck over. Sometimes it was his fault, other times it was poor puck support from teammates. All the highlights show dazzling passes and sniper-like goals, but playing away from the puck is one of the most crucial elements of the game. The past three times, I’ve said “If only someone would have been there.”

New defensive mentality

If someone said goaltending would be this team’s strength after the first three games, I probably would have laughed. Ray Emery and Steve Mason have kept the past three games from getting ugly. It is time for the defense to step up and not make any more dumb mistakes.

Get out of your zone

Turnovers at the blueline will come back and hurt. Sooner or later these turnovers turn into goals,  just ask Luke Schenn. Breaking out of the defensive zone helps the transition game, which helps the offense. Winning the faceoffs in the defensive zone is just as important.

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Tags: Claude Giroux Florida Panthers Luke Schenn Philadelphia Flyers Tim Thomas

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