Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers (10-10-2) play the Florida Panthers (6-13-5) in the first of a two game road trip into the state of Florida. They will travel to Tampa Bay on Wednesday night to take on the Lightning. Game time is 7:30 and it will be televised on CSN Philly.
These two teams last met on October 8th in what was Craig Berube’s first game as the Flyers head coach. The Flyers came away with a 2-1 victory thanks to two early goals by Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn. With the exception of a late 2nd period goal, Steve Mason turned away everything the Panthers sent his way. It was not pretty, but it was the Flyers first win of the season.
Since that time the Panthers have fired coach Kevin Dineen and traded away former Flyer Kris Versteeg. They are sitting just above the Sabres at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Even with the coaching change, the Panthers are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. Since that game the Flyers have traded Max Talbot for Steve Downie and look to be turning their season around.
Things to look for:
– The Flyers are red hot. They have won their last three games and six of their last seven. Matt Read has scored four goals in the last two games. Claude Giroux has five points in the last four games. Both Sean Couturier and Steve Downie have four points in their last three games.
-Tim Thomas vs Steve Mason. Tim Thomas suffered a minor injury after allowing two early goals against the Flyers in these team’s first meeting. Thomas is 5-7-1 with a .908 SV% and a 2.79 GAA. Although those numbers are worse than his career average, they are respectable considering the team that is in front of him. He should be a suitable test for the Flyers. Steve Mason is 7-7-2 with a .933 SV% and a 2.11 GAA. He has been the Flyers MVP and he gives them a chance to win every game in which he plays.
-For all of their flaws, the Panthers have a good group of young players. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are both talented young forwards. They also have a widely coveted young defenseman. Dimitry Kulikov (who I briefly talked about here) is a 23 year old puck moving defenseman. He wears number 7 and is someone that many Flyers fans think they should go after. Be sure to see what you think tonight. Could he help the Flyers?
Tonight’s game is a very winnable one for Philadelphia. If they bring the offense that they have had recently and Mason gives his usual performance the Flyers should be above .500 for the first time this year in about six hours!