Heading into the NHL All-Star Break, the Flyers were on a five-game losing streak. After their reset, they’ll face the extremely red-hot Florida Panthers (31-14-4) who pose quite a challenge. Philadelphia, in the 0-5-0 stretch, was outscored 27-12. Still, they’re third in the NHL Metropolitan Division, but that can change in a tight race.
The Panthers are on a four-game win streak before the NHL All-Star Break. They’re the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, thanks in part to Sam Reinhart. Reinhart ranks second in the NHL in goal scoring (37, a new career high) and leads the NHL in powerplay goals (20) as he paces his best season.
Tonight will be the first of three meetings between the two teams. They’ll play again on March 7th at Amerant Bank Arena before the final meeting at the Wells Fargo Center on March 24th.
Where to Watch
When: February 6th, 2024 @ 7:00pm/EST
Where: Amerant Bank Arena; Sunrise, FL
How to Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
How to Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Nick Cousins might return to the lineup after being sidelined from an illegal check from Jason Zucker. Zucker received a three-game suspension. The Panthers were driven by their forwards to a 9-2-2 record without Cousins, including the night Cousins left the lineup.
Carter Verhaeghe has 50 points (24G, 26A) in 49 games. He trails Reinhart and Matthew Tkachuk on the team scoring leaderboard. Speaking of Tkachuk, he and Cousins are particularly adept at getting under the skin of opponents.
Puck possession is a strength for Florida. They’re second in the NHL for five-on-five shot differential and third in shot quality metrics expressed by expected goal shares. They linger and they’re dangerous, peppering goaltenders with a league-leading average of 34.3 shots per game.
Special teams are another strength for the Panthers. They’re 10th in the NHL on the powerplay and 9th on the penalty kill.
At home, Florida is 14-7-2, exhibiting success on home ice. They’re 1-2-2 in their last five home games, however. Anthony Stolarz will start. This season, Stolarz is 8-4-2 with a 91.6%SV and 2.11GAA.
Here’s the tentative lineup for the Florida Panthers, per Jameson Olive:
Owen Tippett, the prodigal son, is back.
Tippett suffered a lower-body injury versus the Colorado Avalanche. He was retroactively placed on the injured reserve list, missing the games versus the Senators, Lightning, Red Wings, and Bruins. While away, he signed an 8yr/$49.6mil contract extension to preempt restricted free agency this summer.
It’s a homecoming for Tippett. He began his NHL career with the Panthers. In March 2022, he and a 2024 first-round pick went to the Flyers in exchange for the longtime captain, Claude Giroux.
Philadelphia had a ten-day break to rest and prepare for the last third of the season. John Tortorella said on Monday he would lean toward the seven-defensemen lineup format.
Sam Ersson is 1-4-0 in his last five starts. It’s not entirely his fault. Some of this can be placed on bad puck luck, considering the strange deflection goals off attempted shot blocks, or multiple deflections on one shot that change the direction more than once. He is the de facto starting goaltender, so Ersson is playing to establish his role.
Cam Atkinson and Joel Farabee earn tonight’s spotlight. Atkinson is tied with Tippett for the team lead in game-winning goals and Farabee has 10 points (5G, 5A) over as many games, but his point streak is not intact. Farabee is five assists away from 100 career apples.
Here’s the tentative lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers, per Jackie Spiegel:
Place Your Bets (via BetRivers Sportsbook)
Philadelphia Flyers (+170)
Florida Panthers (-215)
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)