Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images North America)
While the Flyers (riding a five-game winning streak that includes victories over Pittsburgh, Montreal and the New York Rangers) may view tonight’s contest at the Wells Fargo Center versus the struggling Florida Panthers as a let down or trap game, the Panthers consider facing the red-hot Flyers a test of their fortitude.
“If we’re going to be a good team, we’ve got to beat the top teams,” said Florida forward Marty Reasoner, whose squad also faces the Penguins on their road trip. “So, we have to rise to the challenge of playing in those fun buildings.”
Scratch one potential Flyers goaltender off the list.
According to the Sun Sentinal, Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun, has been assured by new general manager Dale Tallon that he is not being actively shopped on the trade market.
“He likes me, and he has no interest in shopping me or trading me unless there’s a great deal that would make sense,” Vokoun said regarding his new boss.
“Obviously, everybody’s tradable. He said if it was best for the future of the organization he would have to do it. But from what I understand, he wants me around.”
With an Olympic gold medal and enormous four-point game against Tampa Bay in his rear-view mirror, Flyers’ captain Mike Richards is likely not concerned with facing Florida Panthers forward David Booth for the first time since knocking him out with a snot-bubble hit on Oct. 24.
However, the same can’t be said for Booth, who has played just eight games since returning from a serious concussion caused by the impact.
“We’ve got to get two points, that’s the bottom line,” Booth told the Sun Sentinal’s Steve Gorten, about facing the Flyers at home on Wednesday. “But it’ll be an interesting game, sure.”
According to the Daily News, the NHL has ruled that Mike Richards’ hit on Florida’s David Booth in Saturday’s 5-1 victory at the Wachovia Center, was a hockey hit within the game’s legal parameters.
Both Florida’s Keith Ballard and Florida general manager Randy Sexton were enraged by the hit, calling it intent to injure and demanding a suspension. Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren snapped back, saying that if Sexton thinks it’s an illegal hit, he needs to “watch more hockey games.”
Credit goes to the league for seeing this hit for what it was — violent but not illegal. Credit also should go to the league office for staying consistent in their rulings. Often seen as inconsistent with suspensions especially when it comes to the Flyers, the NHL did not suspend Dion Phaneuf for a similar violent collision in the preseason and ruled in an identical fashion in favor of Richards.
Late in the second period of Saturday’s Flyers – Panthers contest, Mike Richards did his best Scott Stevens impression, colliding with Florida’s David Booth on the blue line, knocking the 24-year-old out cold.
The Flyers have an opportunity for atonement tonight, and they need to make the most of it.
Sputtering Philadelphia hosts the hapless Florida Panthers tonight at 7 P.M. at the Wachovia Center. It is the second time the teams meet within a nine-day span. In the team’s previous matchup on Oct. 16, the Panthers took down the Flyers 4-2, with the help of a late Radek Dvorak shorthanded goal, followed by a Steve Reinprecht empty netter. The contest highlighted the Flyers’ inability to hold a lead or take advantage of the struggling Panthers.
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.
Midway through the 2008-09 season, it seemed as if Florida’s all-star defenseman and upcoming unrestricted free agent, Jay Bouwmeester, would leave the Panthers as soon as it was possible and not look back. But as the lockers got cleaned out in Sunrise, Bouwmeester talked about keeping his options open. Kinda.
Coach John Stevens told the media this morning that he expects forwards Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux to play tonight against the Florida Panthers, at the Wachovia Center at 7 p.m. Hartnell was sent home from practice yesterday with a serious case of pink eye and Giroux underwent tests to find a possible stomach ulcer. The tests were negative, but it did reveal he has some acid reflux issues and he will be fine.
“He looked pretty bad,” Joffrey Lupul said of Hartnell’s eyeball. “Worse than normal.”
Giroux told the media that the stomach pain he has felt for days now does not affect his on-ice play, as he doesn’t even notice it when he’s playing.
“I went to the doctor just to check it out. I’ll be fine,” he said. “It didn’t really matter when I was playing. When I’m on the ice, I don’t think about it.”