FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - It would be easy to look at tonight’s Flyers game and shrug it off.
The Phillies are playing the Dodgers in the NLCS, it’s a Friday night, hockey is in the early stages of the season and, well…. It’s the Florida Panthers.
Admittedly, in a non-traditional hockey market, they aren’t the most riveting team the Flyers play all season.
Still, tonight’s game is a must-have for the Flyers – if there are any “must have” games in October.
The Panthers are hurting for a win. Fresh off their trip to Finland for the NHL Premiere two weeks ago, the Panthers can match their worst start in franchise history (1-5-0) with a loss to the Flyers tonight.
Plus, the Rangers and Penguins (both 6-1-0) have already gotten a sizeable lead in the Atlantic division with the Flyers having a 6-day layoff in between games.
Here are a few things to watch for tonight (7:30, Comcast SportsNet HD):
- Are the Flyers tired after spending nearly five full days in the sun and surf in South Florida? How long will it take them to get their legs back? You will be able to tell a lot about how the game is going to go after the first 20 minutes. Remember, the Panthers haven’t played since Monday.
“They're a real good-looking team,” Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said to the Miami Herald about the Flyers. “The longer they spent in the sun the past three days, the better. We'll take all the help we can get.”
- Will the Flyers attack new Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen? He was the Devils’ backup last season but came to the Panthers via free agency. Regular starter Tomas Vokoun hasn’t looked good since stopping 52 of 55 shots in the Panthers’ first game in Finland, which was Florida’s only win.
- Can Simon Gagne net his first goal? He has been buzzing around the net but hasn’t been able to put in a puck yet.
- How will rookie James van Riemsdyk play in his first game since sustaining a “head injury” last week against Washington.
- Will Ray Emery get back on track after not looking so hot in two of his last three games?
Here are the Flyers' lines tonight:
Scratched: Cote, Betts, Tollefsen.
NOTE: The Flyers have changed the start time of their game against Tampa Bay on Monday, Nov. 2 from 7:00 pm to 5:00 pm to avoid any possible conflict with a Phillies World Series game. The change is permanent, even if the Phillies do not make it to the World Series. Go Phils!