After a tough loss to division foe Montreal, the Florida Panthers are in desperate need of a bounce back, as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight…
The Panthers fell to eight points back of the second wild card with a 5-3 loss to the Canadiens on Friday night, which increases the need for a win tonight. Florida got off to a slow start in last night’s game, as they trailed 2-0 within the first few minutes of the game. That can’t happen again tonight, as the Panthers need to get off to a fast start, and then get the two points, as they risk digging an extremely large hole in the playoff race with a loss.
The Philadelphia Flyers
This is the third match-up between the Panthers (15-15-6) and the Flyers (15-16-5) this season. They split the first two games, and this will be the first meeting between the two Eastern Conference squads in Sunrise. The Flyers are coming off a 6-5 overtime loss in Tampa, and while they earned a point against the NHL’s best team, they, like the Panthers, remain far out of playoff position. Philadelphia is nine points back of the second wild card spot, but they could climb past Florida in the Eastern Conference standings with a win.
The Flyers have had all kinds of issues in the net this year, and rookie Carter Hart, who is 2-1-0 this season, is going to get the start for Philadelphia. Hart, their 2nd round pick in 2016, has a 2.36 GAA and and .904 save percentage this season. For the Panthers, backup James Reimer will start, as Roberto Luongo will rest after allowing four goals on Friday night. Reimer has been sub-par this season, as he is 6-7-3, with a 3.45 GAA and a .888 save percentage. The Panthers got goals from Henrik Borgstrom and Denis Malgin on Friday, and Florida is going to continue to need goals from their supporting cast to help supplement their core scorers.
The Flyers are led by Claude Giroux, who has 44 points (13 goals and 31 assists). As well as Sean Couturier, who has tallied 28 points this year (14 goals and 14 assists). The Panthers are carried by forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who has collected 42 points this year (9 goals, 33 assists). Also, center Aleksander Barkov, who has 37 points this year (15 goals, 22 assists).
"They (Flyers) have a lot of skill and fire power up front. I want to worry about us and how we're going to play in our structure." -Coach Boughner pic.twitter.com/y3M00Zb5XE
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) December 29, 2018
In terms of special teams, the Panthers have been special on the power play. They possess the league’s second best power play (28.4%), while the Flyers enter with the NHL’s worst power play (13.1%). Both teams have pretty even penalty kills. The Flyers have a 74.6% penalty kill percentage, while Florida enters tonight with a 77.5% penalty kill percentage. Special teams will be a key part of tonight’s match-up. Expect both teams to look to earn points to get back into the playoff race.
When: 7 PM EST 12/29
Where: BB&T Center
What: Philadelphia Flyers @ Florida Panthers