Flyers hope to finally hit .500 vs. Panthers

Flyers hope to finally hit .500 vs. Panthers
February 21, 2013, 2:00 pm
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They had a chance to hit .500 last week at New Jersey and failed.
The Flyers get another crack at it Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers at Wells Fargo Center, thanks to a taunt 6-5 escape from Pittsburgh on Wednesday against the Penguins.
They are 8-9-1 in the Eastern Conference standings with 17 points.
“Getting back home and knowing the schedule sits up in our favor, knowing that you may start to see guys on the ice who have not been on the ice due to injury, all that adds up to a positive,” coach Pete Laviolette said.
What the Flyers have to guard against here is a natural letdown. Wednesday’s thriller in The Burgh was left everyone emotionally drained, much like the playoff affairs last spring against the Penguins.
“It’s a roller coaster, it’s up and down, you go through all kinds [of emotions],” Danny Briere said. “It was just like the playoffs last year. I don’t why this brings these kind of games when you bring these two teams together. Lots of emotions flowing, lots of everything.”
Max Talbot said he couldn’t even think about everything that was happening on the ice. The Flyers fell behind early, caught up, took the lead, lost the lead, regained the lead …
“You don’t have to time to [absorb it],” Talbot said. “You just try to grind and get the next one and keep playing.”
Added Wayne Simmonds, who had a Gordie Howe hat trick (see story), “I just tried to stay even keel. You never know what is going to happen. It is always up and down when we play Pittsburgh. It seems the last team that scores, wins.”
That is just what unfolded as Jakub Voracek’s goal with 1:31 left was the game-winner, as well as his hat trick goal – first in his career.
Voracek’s goal assured the Flyers a .500 finish (3-3) on their six-game road swing.
Now, what hasn’t ended, however, are the back-to-backs.
Tonight’s game will mark the sixth back-to-back affair since the lockout-shortened season began January 19.
That comes as welcomed news to Laviolette.
“You'll be looking at 19 games with six sets of back-to-backs, and the majority of them on the road,” Laviolette said. “It'll be good to get home. It's been a lot of time away from home. It's been a lot of games. Some of those games, I like what we've done and some of them we needed to be better.”
The Flyers going into this game with a 6-4-1 record for the month of February and a 4-7 record in back-to-backs.
Their next set of back-to-backs are an away/home affair next month - March 9 in Boston and March 10 against Buffalo at home. Both are early afternoon affairs.
“It’s been hard,” Kimmo Timonen said. “We played lot of road games. A  lot of back-to-back games. It’s hard, especially if you have to do a lot of work.
“It’s going to get easier. We have a lot of  home games coming up and not as many back-to- back. The first month was  tough with a lot of back-to-backs on the road. Everybody goes through it at some point.”
Tonight will mark the third time the Flyers and Panthers have met this season.

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