#9 Florida Panthers (39-29-11, 89 pts) at #4 Philadelphia Flyers (42-25-11, 95 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN HD
Radio: 94.1 WYSP, XM 206
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Litter Box Cats
On Saturday night, the Flyers let one get away from them in Ottawa. They had a chance to clinch a playoff spot but couldn't get it done. By virtue of taking that game to a shootout, however, they only need one point this evening against Florida to guarantee playing past Sunday.
Let's not let it get that close.
Tonight's game is going to be a tough one for the Flyers. Florida is a team with just three games left on its schedule, beginning tonight in Philly. They do not control their own destiny, currently sitting in ninth place in the East. They are tied with the New York Rangers in points but trail them due to the tiebreaker -- NYR has more wins.
Ironically though, it is in Florida's interest that the Flyers have a strong conclusion to their season. Two Flyer wins against the Rangers on Thursday and Sunday would go a long way toward helping the Panthers secure their first playoff berth since the 1999/2000 season.
But of course, they can help themselves with a win tonight. They're coming off of a big win Sunday at home over the Penguins, a 4-2 win that saw Sidney Crosby get in another fight. They were slow starters in that game though, outshot 18-3 in the first period. If they start half as slow tonight as they did on Sunday, the Flyers better damn well capitalize.
It's all about 60-minute efforts for the Flyers these days. They've been few-and-far-between lately, and it's shown in the results column. A solid, complete effort is necessary tonight, if for no other reason than the teams' psyche. If they compete for the entire game, they can beat any team in this league. Period.
Playoff hockey starts tonight. With four games left and a possible eight points available, the Flyers hold their own destiny in their hands. Taking seven of those points guarantees home ice in the playoffs. Get it done, team.
Between the Pipes: The last meeting between these two came less than two weeks ago. It was a frustrating loss for the Flyers, who despite putting 42 shots on net, were thwarted by a stellar Florida goalie, Craig Anderson. Don't expect that to happen tonight for two reasons: A) it's tough to play like that two games in a row against a great offensive team like the Flyers, and B) Anderson isn't even playing tonight.
Tomas Vokoun, who W4E over at The Litter Box believes is the better of the two Florida netminders, gets the call tonight for the Panthers. He made 41 saves in the win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Martin Biron will go again for the Flyers. He'll probably start tonight and both games against the Rangers, which means Antero Niittymaki will go Saturday on Long Island.
Florida Panthers Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell missed practice yesterday, but they are in the lineup tonight. No word on if Andreas Nodl or Riley Cote will suit up tonight on the fourth line.
Questions To Answer
- Does Florida get off to a weak start, and do the Flyers jump on it?
- 60 minute effort?
- We're back to this again: does Biron give up a softy?
- Jeff Carter wins the Bobby Clarke Trophy?
Flyers team awards being handed out prior to the game. There's the Barry Ashbee Trophy for top defenseman (won last year by Kimmo Timonen), the Bobby Clarke Trophy for team MVP (won last year by Mike Richards), Gene Hart Memorial Award for best rapport with fans (won last year by Richards), Pelle Lindbergh Memorial for most improved (won last year by Braydon Coburn), the Toyota Cup for most three stars points (won last year by Martin Biron), and the Yanick Dupre Memorial for best rapport with the media (won by Biron).