Philadelphia Flyers Daily: Flyers Host Florida Panthers

First Postdeadline Game

The Philadelphia Flyers host the Florida Panthers tonight at 7:00, and it’s both teams’ first game since the trade deadline passed. The Flyers traded Mark Streit for center Valtteri Filppula, who will play tonight in #51.

Oct 8, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) defends Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

And yesterday, we found out that Michael Raffl will miss the next 6 to 8 weeks.

“Fight Like Hell”

In an interview with Jason Myrtetus yesterday on 97.5 The Fanatic’s “Mike Missanelli Show,” Ron Hextall said that the Flyers are going to “fight like hell” to get into the playoffs. They’ve got 20 games left to try to climb the standings. And Florida is one of the teams currently standing in the Flyers’ way. The Panthers are one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hold the second wild card spot, while the Flyers trail the Leafs by four points.

Bellemare Gets the A

If the Flyers are going to earn a playoff berth, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will have to help lead the way. A day after he signed a multiyear extension with the Flyers, the Flyers named him an alternate captain. He replaces Mark Streit.

And it looks like he’s ready to assume a leadership role within the locker room.

Offensive Struggles

Both teams have had trouble scoring goals. The Flyers are 21st in the league in goals for with 156, and the Panthers’ 154 goals put them at 24th. But Florida has done a somewhat better job of preventing goals against than the Flyers have. The Flyers’ goal differential is -27, while the Panthers’ is -15. Roberto Luongo is past his prime, but his .914 save percentage is still better than Steve Mason’s .903.

The Flyers hope that Filppula can add some much-needed offensive punch. He’ll play between Schenn and Jakub Voracek tonight.

His production has declined recently, and he turns 33 later this month, but Hextall isn’t worried.

“You have to be really careful with production because, depending on what team you’re on and where you get slotted and who you play with, production can go up and down based on your linemates,” Hextall said. “This guy can play on the power play, can play on the penalty kill, can play against the top line. He’s a good player.” (Sam Carchidi)

Special Teams Key

The Flyers rely on the powerplay to generate offense more than any other team does. More than 29% of their 156 total goals scored came on the man advantage. Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds are the league leaders in powerplay goals with 14 and 13, respectively. Claude Giroux and Phil Kessel have the most total powerplay points with 26, and Schenn has 25. And while Florida’s powerplay hasn’t been as good overall, the Panthers have scored a powerplay goal in each of their last four games.

The Flyers powerplay, 8th in the league, is going up against a stout penalty kill, however. Florida’s PK is third-best in the league at 85.6%. And they trail Boston and Carolina by just one-tenth of a percentage point.

One Game at a Time

With the East as tight as it is this late in the season, the Flyers can’t afford to let up against the Panthers like they did against the Avalanche.  They need to earn the two points on the line tonight before they can start thinking about the Washington Capitals, their next opponent.

 

Some links surrounding the Orange and Black

Flyers’ Michael Raffl out 6-8 weeks with injury (CSN Philly)

Flyers re-sign Neuvirth; Mason’s days numbered? (Philly.com)

Flyers give Bellemare, Neuvirth raises in new two-year contracts (Yahoo Sports)

Lightning Swap Filppula for Flyers’ Streit, Send Streit to Pens (The Hockey Writers)