After six days of fishing, boating and practicing on bad ice at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL, the 3-1-1 Flyers are set to take on the struggling 1-4 Panthers at 7:30 P.M. tonight, in what is the first of four meetings this season between the teams.
The Flyers enter Friday’s contest having lost their last two, a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and a heartbreaking 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. And although there are very few moral victories for Stanley Cup caliber teams in the regular season, the Flyers have yet to be “beaten” all season. The Flyers rank fourth in the NHL in power play converting at 28% and are fourth in penalty kill at 88.9%. Ray Emery will be in goal for the Flyers. He has a 3-1 record with a 2.74 GAA.
The Panthers are riding a four-game losing streak, however their last two games were both lost by just one goal. The culprit for Florida’s poor start has been its shaky goaltending and lack of offense. The Panthers rank 28th in the NHL in power play converting as just 9.5% and are 23rd, killing just 69.9% on the penalty kill. Back up goalie Scott Clemmensen will make his season debut. He has a career 1.89 GAA against the Flyers.
The Flyers rank fourth in the NHL in goals per game with an average of 3.8. Rookie James van Riemsdyk returns from concussion symptoms and will be on a newly forged line aside center Mika Pyorala and Arron Asham. Claude Giroux will continue on the first like with center Mike Richards and winger Simon Gagne. Riley Cote will likely be a healthy scratch considering Florida’s lack of an enforcer. Richards leads the Flyers with six goals.
Gagne – Richards – Giroux (13 points)
Hartnell – Carter – Briere (15 points)
Van Riemsdyk – Pyorala – Asham (3 points)
Carcillo – Laperriere – Powe (2 points)
The Flyers’ defense is supposed to be a strong point of the team but has yet to deliver consistently. Too many times in the past three games the defense has had mental lapses that led to game-changing goals the other way. Matt Carle leads the Flyers with eight points. Chris Pronger scored his first of the season against the Ducks last Saturday.
Carle – Pronger
Timonen – Coburn
Parent – Tollefsen
Florida ranks 29th in the NHL in goals per game with just 1.8. Michael Frolik leads the team two goals. Nathan Horton scored his first of the season in his team’s 3-2 loss against Tampa on Oct. 12. The Cats hope he can catch fire and start propelling the Panthers to more goals. Dominic Moore makes his season debut for the Panthers. He was held up joining the team due to work visa issues.
Booth – Weiss – Horton (4 points)
Olesz – Reinprecht – Frolik (6 points)
Stillman – Campbell – Dvorak (3 points)
Kreps – Moore – Koistenen (3 points)
Also ranking 29th in the league is the Panthers’ defense, giving up an average of four goals per game.
Pairings are in no particular order
McCabe – Allen
Ballard – Leopold
Seidenberg – Kulikov