SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 04: Mikael Samuelsson #26 of the Florida Panthers (C) scores a power play goal at 11:26 of the second period against the Ottawa Senators and is joined by Tomas Fleischmann #14 (L) and Stephen Weiss #9 (R) at the BankAtlantic Center on March 4, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
We can sit here and make jokes all day about how awful the Southeast Division is, and about how pathetic it is that the Florida Panthers could finish three spots ahead of the Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings. Actually, we should make those jokes all day. That's why there's a comments section, ya know?
But there are more pressing matters at hand here tonight when the Flyers host the Panthers at Wells Fargo Center. This could very easily wind up being a first-round playoff matchup, and this is the perfect chance for some advance scouting.
Well, sort of. Hopefully, this won't be the team the Flyers will send to the ice come Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. No Jakub Voracek tonight, no Kimmo Timonen, no Andrej Meszaros. It's quite possible that Jaromir Jagr sits with his hip injury, too. There are more questions on defense following Brandon Manning's call-up, too.
This isn't a full roster, but it hasn't been a full roster for most of this current three-game winning streak. Yet again, the Flyers will be forced to lean on Ilya Bryzgalov in goal tonight, but with the way he's been playing, that's not the worst fate in the world.
Not like the Panthers are much healthier. We're familiar with Scottie Upshall and Kris Versteeg, but they won't get familiar with the WFC ice tonight. They join Dmitry Kulikov and Matt Bradley with injuries. The Panthers have lost two of their last three games and are just one of three teams trying to back into the East's No. 3 seed, although despite the recent losing, they've been able to develop a tiny cushion between themselves and both the Capitals and Jets.
Man, that division is bad. Commence jokes ... now. Game thread at 5ish, action on CSN and WIP.