Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers at Florida Panthers

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Last week, the Philadelphia Flyers squandered opportunities in three games. The inability to secure wins and play three periods of effective hockey haunted them. This is a new week and the Flyers have to shake that all off to stay close with teams in the Metropolitan Division. After two days off, Philadelphia travels south to take on the Florida Panthers. Another opportunity is within reach to defeat a quality hockey team.

Currently, the Philadelphia Flyers are trying to correct a three-game losing streak that began with a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. A win tonight would put the Flyers back into third place in the Metropolitan Division. To do this, the penalty-kill unit for Philadelphia has to stop a Florida Panthers powerplay unit that has scored in the last nine games. Both teams are a top of the NHL in shootout appearances, which hasn’t paid off for the Flyers as of late. Last season, every game between the Panthers and Philadelphia were decided by one goal.

After the performance in a loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday, Carter Hart will get the nod to start in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers. The starting goaltender for the Florida Panthers will be former Flyers netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky. In the last ten games, the series is split at 5-5. On the injury report for Philadelphia is Scott Laughton (broken finger), Nolan Patrick (IR), and Samuel Morin (torn ACL). On the injury report for the Panthers is Jayce Hawryluk (upper body) and MacKenzie Weegar (upper body).

Florida Panthers – Skaters

Jonathan Huberdeau is the leading scorer of the Florida Panthers. With 27 points tallied on the season, every one of his nine goals has come during even-strength hockey. Of his 18 assists, he is most dynamic on the powerplay. Huberdeau is scoring 18.4% of the shots he takes. Look for Huberdeau to take more shots tonight and be a little more selfish with the puck.

Keith Yandle, along with Aaron Ekblad, is among the top two defensemen on this team. Focusing on Yandle, he’s contributed the most offensively of the Florida Panthers defensemen. His 18 points mostly consist of assists during the powerplay. He is another cog in the well-oiled Panthers powerplay machine. Yandle has also blocked 21 shots this season and dished out nine hits.

Florida Panthers – Goaltending

Before Carter Hart arrived in Philadelphia, one slight on the mind of fans was that the Philadelphia Flyers had Sergei Bobrovsky and stuck with Ilya Bryzgalov. This was many seasons ago, but the “what if” remains. This season, Bobrovsky has had 16 starts and only seven wins. Hart’s arrival has drowned out the want for Bobrovsky back as a Flyer, who isn’t seeing the puck well this season. Currently, Bobrovsky has maintained an 88.2% save percentage with a 3.53 goal against average.

Faceoff Possession

Between the two franchises, the Philadelphia Flyers are the only ones with a team faceoff percentage over 50%. The Florida Panthers are at 49.6% while the Flyers maintain 54.1%. On the Panthers, the best faceoff opportunists are Brian Boyle, Henrik Borgstrom, and Aleksander Barkov. For Philadelphia, the Flyers look to Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and James van Riemsdyk. The advantage here stays with Philadelphia.

Prediction

These two teams come in at right around the same strength. In the NHL standings, the Florida Panthers have one more point that the Philadelphia Flyers, but if anything has been proven about the Flyers, it’s that they can hang in there against tough teams. If the Panthers can be stopped on the powerplay tonight, Philadelphia will win this hockey game. All of this has to happen in regulation for the Flyers tonight as they cannot afford to keep giving a point away each night. My prediction is 4-2 in favor of Philadelphia.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The money line favors the Florida Panthers at -140 with an over-under set at 6.5. Follow me at EricReesePSN and Philly Sports Network at PhiladelphiaSN on Twitter!

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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