Flyers vs. Panthers preview: Welcome to the long, winding road

Joel Auerbach

The Flyers have 18 games left before the New Year. 13 of those games are on the road, beginning Monday night in Florida.

A wildly successful homestand is over, and the Flyers are finally looking like the team we hoped they could be. But now that they're back on the road for the better part of the next month, will that success continue?

Flyers_orange_mediumPanthers_red_medium
Philadelphia Flyers (10-10-2, 24 pts) at Florida Panthers (6-13-5, 17 pts)
7:30 p.m. | BB&T Center | Sunrise, Florida
TV: CSN Philly, FS Florida | Radio: 97.5 FM
Get the Florida perspective at Litter Box Cats

The Flyers will bring the same lineup they've employed for the last three games into South Florida tonight where they'll face the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are certainly a better team than we saw in Philly back in Craig Berube's first game as head coach, but we all know the Flyers are a much different team now as well.

Florida has also fired their head coach since we last saw them. Peter Horachek has taken over for Kevin Dineen (yes, that Kevin Dineen) on an interim basis, and the Cats are an at-least respectable 3-4-1 since the move. In the 16 games before firing Dineen, the Panthers equaled that same number of wins.

The Panthers are weak in just about every category -- 22nd in the league in scoring, 27th in goals against, 22nd in possession, 30th in power play percentage, 27th on the penalty kill. Of course, the Flyers are weak in a lot of these categories as well and they can be skewed by early season woes, of which the Panthers had many. There's no doubt Florida is playing better than they were early in the season, but it'd be a stretch to say they're a "good" team.

Tim Thomas will be in goal for Florida tonight. He's been in and out of the lineup with injuries, one of which he suffered in that game against the Flyers, but he's still played more than any other Panthers goalie this season. In 14 games so far, he's compiled a .908 save percentage. Steve Mason goes for the Flyers, as you'd expect. He made 33 saves in that game against Florida back on Oct. 8.

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