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Panthers @ Flyers, 21/2/2013


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PREVIEW 11:30 PM EST (2/20/13)

Coming off a thrilling 6-5 road win in Pittsburgh that concluded a season-high six-game road trip with a 3-3-0 mark, the Philadelphia Flyers (8-9-1) now begin a five-game homestand that starts with a match with the Florida Panthers (4-7-4). The game starts at 7:00 p.m. EST and will be televised on CSN Philly.

This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season.

On Jan. 26 in Sunrise, Fla., Philly pummeled the Panthers by a 7-1 count. Matt Read scored a hat trick, while the Flyers got single goals from Wayne Simmonds, Tye McGinn, Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Luke Schenn. Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves for the victory.

On Feb. 7, the teams rematched at the Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia Flyers let one point slip away when were unable to protect a one-goal lead in the third period and wound up losing 3-2 via shootout to the Florida Panthers. Jakub Voracek and Matt Read scored for Philadelphia, while Jack Skille and Stephen Weiss countered for the Cats.

In the skills competition, Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller converted their chances against Bryzgalov, while neither Matt Read nor Claude Giroux were able to put a puck past Jose Theodore. Bryzgalov finished with 22 saves (all in regulation) while Theodore had 25 regulation saves, 7 overtime stops and the two shootout saves.

If ever there was a potential trap game on a team's schedule, tomorrow night's game against the Panthers would be the one. Philly is in the first game of a long homestand after an extremely tough road trip. The Flyers are coming off a highly emotional, playoff-intensity game against the archrival Penguins. This game is the second half of back-to-backs. Lastly, Florida is still struggling in the standings but will be "up" for this game while the Flyers may not be.

In short, the Flyers need to be on their guard against a drop in their energy level. Philadelphia has exploded for 13 goals in the last two games, but they need to keep their foot on the gas pedal.

Assuming Matt Read's upper-body injury sustained in the Pittsburgh game will keep him out of the lineup, Tye McGinn could get back into the Philadelphia lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last two games. Both Scott Hartnell (foot) and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) are inching toward their returns, but neither is ready as of yet.

With tomorrow's game being both the second game of a back-to-back and middle game of a three-in-four, there would seem to be a good chance that Brian Boucher gets the start against the Panthers.

The Panthers have recalled their top goaltending prospect Jacob Markström from the AHL. The club will temporarily carry three goalies on their NHL roster, with the young Swede joining veterans Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. There is no official word yet on the starter and backup for tomorrow, but it is believed that Markström will get the call.

Florida has been a banged-up team for much of the season. After finally getting some healthy players back in the lineup earlier this month, the injury bug bit again. Currently, the Panthers are without former Flyers forwards Kris Versteeg (upper-body injury) and Scottie Upshall (ankle) as well as defensemen Ed Jovanovski (knee) and Michael Caruso (wrist).

PROJECTED LINEUPS -- Subject to change, will be updated in the morning


15 Tye McGinn - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek

48 Danny Briere - 10 Brayden Schenn - 17 Wayne Simmonds

25 Max Talbot - 14 Sean Couturier - 9 Mike Knuble

12 Harry Zolnierczyk - 26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 36 Zac Rinaldo

44 Kimmo Timonen - 22 Luke Schenn

8 Nicklas Grossmann - 5 Braydon Coburn

29 Erik Gustafsson - 27 Bruno Gervais

33 Brian Boucher

[30 Ilya Bryzgalov]


12 Jack Skille - 9 Stephen Weiss - 18 Shawn Matthias

11 Jonathan Huberdeau - 50 Drew Shore - 88 Peter Mueller

82 Tomas Kopecky - 57 -Marcel Goc - 14 Tomas Fleischmann

27 Alexei Kovalev - 25 Jerred Smithson - 22George Parros

51 Brian Campbell - 17 Filip Kuba

7 Dmitry Kulikov - 43 Mike Weaver

44 Erik Gudbranson - 23 Tyson Strachan

35 Jacob Markström

30 Scott Clemmensen / 60 Jose Theodore


If you were not riveted to the Flyers-Penguins seesaw slugfest last night, chances are that there's no hockey game that can keep you entertained. The wild 6-5 affair was reminiscent of the Flyers-Penguins games down the stretch and playoffs last year.

As was so often the case last spring, the Flyers found themselves trailing 2-0 in the first period only to storm back for four unanswered goals. No lead was safe for either club, but Philly scored the game-winner on a fluky goal by Jakub Voracek scored from behind the net with 1:31 left in regulation after the Penguins had come back to tie the score at 5-5.

Voracek recorded his first career NHL hat trick in the game. Over his last 44 games in a Flyers uniform -- final 14 games of the 2011-12 regular season, the team's 11-game playoff run and the first 18 games of the 2013 campaign -- the Czech winger has 43 points (15 goals, 28 asssists).

The Flyers also got a pair of goals from Wayne Simmonds, who has seven points in his last seven games. In the first period, Nicklas Grossmann's first goal in a Flyers uniform cut the the early 2-0 deficit in half. Grossmann also had a monster game defensively. He has been reunited the last two games with Braydon Coburn, and both members of the pairing have played well.

Ilya Bryzgalov did not have his "A" game. Nothing he allowed was downright soft, but the Penguins scored on him a few times when he either wasn't squared to the shooter or wasn't able to move laterally quite fast enough. But he also came up with some real tough stops, and was easily the better of the goalies in the game. Pittsburgh's Tomas Vokoun was all over the place (in a bad way; as in frequently putting himself way out of position and losing concentration).

Apart from the goal scorers and a two-assist effort from Claude Giroux, the Flyers got very strong games from the likes of Sean Couturier and Max Talbot.

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This will be an interesting game. I actually think we will learn a lot more about this team from this game than we did last night against Pitt. They always get up for the Pens especially at Consol so I don't want to put too much stock in that game as turning the corner from the rough start. To me turning the corner would be a nice 4-2, 5-3 win tonight at home and keeping the momentum going. If they suffer an emotional let down tonight then they are right back to square one again.

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