Eastern Conference battle among the featured games on a busy Tuesday night in the NHL as the Philadelphia Flyers head to South Florida to take on Joel Quenneville’s Florida Panthers. The Panthers are rounding into form after a poor start to the season and are up to third place in the Atlantic Division with 25 points. That puts them 1 point behind second place Montreal and 4 back of division leading Boston. The Flyers continue to be one of the most erratic and inconsistent teams in the league. They’re tied for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division with 34 points and are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games though they enter this matchup on a three game losing streak.
The Panthers are not quite where coach Quenneville wants them quite yet but they’ve been putting up a decent effort on most nights. They’ve at least been competitive and they’ve only lost one game by more than one goal in their past 17 contests. They’ve won three of hour heading into this matchup pulling out a couple of scrappy wins at the Rangers (6-5 SO) and at Boston (5-4 SO). They lost at home to Winnipeg on 11/14 but recovered to beat the Rangers on Saturday night. The good news is that Florida is scoring goals–they’re at 3.55 goals per game which is 5th best in the NHL. The problem is that they’ve been very porous on defense and allow 3.55 goals per game, fourth worst in the NHL. Much of the problem has been the early season struggles of former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s 7-4-4 with a 3.53 goals against average and a 0.882 save percentage.
The Flyers have been getting some solid work in net from Carter Hart–he’s 6-4-2 on the year with a 2.50 goals against average and a 0.903 save percentage. Overall, the Flyers have played well in their own end and have the #8 team defense in the league. Their offense has been mediocre at best–they’re tied with Buffalo for #19 in goals scored per game with 2.90. Philly is middle of the pack on the power play (#14) but have done a nice job on the penalty kill successfully negating 84.2% of opponent man advantage opportunities.
This game comes down to the Flyers erratic tendencies and their poor play on the road. The Panthers seem to be improving even with Bobrovsky’s struggles while Philly can’t decide where they’re going. Panthers have won 4 of the last 6 head to head meetings including 3 straight at home.