Thursday night hockey in Florida. The Flyers are coming off the heels of a demoralizing loss to the New York Islanders. The Flyers fell behind 3-0 against New York in the first period. They spent the next 38:32 clawing back into it, tying the game with 1:32 remaining off a Sean Couturier put-back. 51 seconds later, Ryan Pulock buried a slapper from the point, ending any and all chances of getting one point out of the contest for the Flyers.
While the loss was a tough one, the Flyers will look to regroup against a Panthers team that has gone 5-4-1 in their last ten. From January 9th to the 21st, Florida was riding a six game win streak. In seven games since, they have gone 2-4-1. The Flyers look to add another tally in the loss column for Florida.
Head-to-head, the Flyers are 5-5-0 against the Panthers in their last ten. They’ve split the season series thus far, with one win apiece. Thursday night will be the deciding contest to see who takes the season series.
The Flyer are going up against a solid Panthers powerplay. The man-advantage unit for Florida ranks ninth in the NHL (22.5%). The Flyers PK is formidable, ranking 11th in the NHL (81.4%). However, away from Philadelphia, the Flyers are only killing 76.47% of their penalties. The Flyers PK will have to be on their toes tonight against a dangerous Florida powerplay.
As for the Flyers powerplay, they sit in 19th place in the NHL (18.9%). Away from home, they’re converting on 16.85% of their man-advantages. The Florida penalty kill unit ranks 24th in the NHL (77.6%). If there were ever a time for the Flyers to light a spark on their powerplay unit, tonight is the night.
Panthers To Watch
Florida’s three leading scorers don’t come as much of a shock. Jonathan Huberdeau (68pts), Aleksander Barkov (55pts), and Mike Hoffman (46pts) lead the Panthers into a battle for the second wildcard spot in the East.
In 19 career games against the Flyers, Huberdeau has posted eight goals and four assists, with three of his goals being game winners. Mike Hoffman has nine goals and six assists against the Flyers in 17 career games. Five of his goals have come on the powerplay.
Aleksander Barkov, as always, will be the forward to watch. He’s played 18 career games against the Flyers, and has tallied five goals and 10 assists in those games. In two games against the Flyers this season, Barkov has one goal and two assists.
Flyers to Watch
The Flyers’ fourth leading scorer, Claude Giroux, enters tonights contest posting 10 goals and 15 assists in 39 career games against Florida. Defenseman Ivan Provorov is averaging 25:10 on ice in his career against the Panthers, the second-most time-on-ice averaged against any single team for the fourth-year defenseman.
Flyers’ second-pair defenseman Travis Sanheim, on the other hand, has Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s number. Out of his 19 career goals, six have come against the former Vezina winner. Altogether, Sanheim has one goal and two assists in six career games against the Panthers.
The Flyers will roll with Carter Hart Thursday night. Hart’s last game came against Florida, and he allowed only one goal on 31 shots. It was his 14th win at home this year, bringing his home record to 14-2-2. On the road, however, he’s a completely different goalie. Hart owns a 2-9-1 record away from Wells Fargo Center. Paired with a .851 save percentage and a 4.01 goals against average, Hart needs to step up his play away from home.
Bobrovsky is back in net after playing backup Tuesday night against New Jersey. Bob’s last game, much like Hart’s, was against the Flyers. He gave up three goals on 33 shots, which was a solid outing for the veteran net-minder. Overall in his career, Bob owns a 15-4-1 record when facing the Flyers. He also owns a .927 save percentage and 2.18 goals against average against the Flyers.
Thursday nights game will be televised on NBCSN, with puck-drop slated for 7:00 P.M. EST. The game will take place at BB&T Arena in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers. The under on goals is set at 6.5, and the Flyers are favorites at +1.5.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Co-host of the Pod Street Bullies podcast, Managing Editor of the Flyers division at Philly Sports Network. Follow me on Twitter @PodStreetBobb and follow the Pod Street Bullies @PodSTBullies.
“To play the game is good, to win is better, but to love the game is best of all.”