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Game 8, Preview and Open Thread: Win This Time, Florida Panthers at Philadelphia Flyers

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Florida Panthers (2-5-1, 5 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (4-2-1, 9 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN HD, FS Florida HD
Radio: 610 WIP (internet stream), XM 207
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Litter Box Cats
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Just a week after falling to the Florida Panthers in unimpressive fashion, the Philadelphia Flyers host the 13th place Panthers tonight at the Wachovia Center. In yet another quirk of the NHL schedule, two teams that play each other just four times all year long will be halfway through their season series before a month has ticked off the schedule.

The story in the aftermath of last Friday's 4-2 loss was the "lack of explosiveness" the Flyers demonstrated. Whether that was a result of a long layoff or a week in the Florida sun is unimportant at this stage, but the team certainly didn't not play to their potential against the Panthers last time out. There can be no excuses for that tonight, as the team is now back into the regular swing of things and on home ice.

The forward lines have been shaken up by John Stevens yet again tonight, mainly in an effort to get Simon Gagne out of his early season slump. Gagne has not scored yet this season, the longest scoreless stretch to start a year in his career. He'll play with Claude Giroux and Ian Laperriere tonight, and Stevens hopes that the unique mix of players on that line will bring success.

Scott Hartnell will join Mike Richards and Arron Asham while James van Riemsdyk will play with Jeff Carter and Danny Briere. The fourth line is the only one that looks the same as it did Thursday night against Boston -- Dan Carcillo, Darroll Powe, and Mika Pyorala. Riley Cote sits yet again. Keep an eye on that fourth line ice time tonight, because with Blair Betts set to come back into the lineup hopefully within the next week, ice time could be an indication on who may be the odd man out when Betts does return.

Ray Emery is in goal for Philadelphia. Brian Boucher will start tomorrow against the Sharks.

As for the Panthers, they lost in a shootout last night to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Despite the loss, Donny at The Litter Box believes they showed more promise last night than at any other point this season. Still, he says the "up-and-down nature of the Panthers' season to this point" makes being a fan a tough experience at times.

Adding to that, there has been some shuffle in their lineup and there's no guarantee who we might see take the ice at game time. We do know that Tomas Vokoun will be between the pipes for the second straight night. He made 41 saves last night as the Pens peppered him with pucks for a good portion of the game.

After the jump, a few questions to answer tonight.

Questions To Answer

  1. Can the Flyers get to Vokoun? 42 saves is a lot of work in one night, and playing back to back, he could be tired.
  2. How does the new "French Connection" of Gagne, Laperriere, and Giroux work out? Can Gagne break out of his slump?
  3. Can Arron Asham keep up his two-game goal streak?
  4. Florida's power play is atrocious, sitting at 26th in the league. Maybe the Flyers score a shortie tonight?
    How does the Tollefsen/Syvret pairing follow up an impressive performance from Thursday?

Every team in the NHL is in action tonight, and it's the final night of the NHL Center Ice free preview. Take advantage if you can. Locally, the game is being broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and over the air on 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the discussion, and LET'S GO FLYERS!