last time the Flyers took the ice, they halted an 11-game winning
streak. The last time they faced the Panthers (March 8), they beat them
by a 5-0 count. Tonight, the Panthers return to the Wells Fargo Center
clutching a four-game winning streak and sole possession of first place
in the Southeast.
After weathering a slew of injuries and some crappy
news on Andrej Meszaros, the Flyers get three players back tonight in
Pavel Kubina, Andreas Lilja and Max Talbot. That they beat the Pens
without so many of their defensive regulars and usual seventh man, as
well as a top defensive forward, says a lot about the way this team is
playing right now. It wasn't pretty for much of the contest, but would
you rather a team that started slow and never gave up, or wilted after
falling into a hole?
The Flyers are back in the comforts of their 7PM
starts, and they've been playing better at home this month too. Will
that translate into a complete-game effort?
also begins a six-game swing of opponents outside of the Atlantic
division, the first four of which come as part of the five-game
homestand that began on Sunday. Considering the hockey being played by
the divisional rivals, there probably won't be many complaints. However,
Florida and Washington are battling for the three seed as division
leaders with plenty to play for. The team that does not win the
Southeast not only misses out on the preferential seeding—they might
miss the playoffs altogether.
Buffalo is banging on the gate, just two points behind Washington for the final slot.
Panthers will look to continue making their own fate (like John
Connor's mom said to), winning the games on their schedule and not
worrying about the others. It should make for some exciting hockey
tonight, and the same will be true on Thursday when the Caps visit.
Bryz gets the start again tonight. Kris Versteeg and
Dmitry Kulikov both returned to the Panthers' lineup on Saturday, so
Florida will be healthier than the last time we saw them. Mike Morreale
says Scottie Upshall skated with the team earlier today, but no word yet
on whether he'll dress tonight.