Two team heading in different directions (how many times have I said that recently) will faceoff tonight in Sunrise, Florida. The Philadelphia Flyers will try to win their season high sixth straight game and the Panthers will attempt to avoid losing their eighth in a row.
While both teams will be playing back to back games, the momentum is clearly with the Flyers as they are coming off a 7-2 trouncing of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as they resume their four game road trip. The game was tied going into the third period, and then the Flyers exploded for five unanswered goals including a couple from Simon Gagne as they continue to outscore their opponents during the winning streak 22-10.
Jeff Carter (could have been a Panther) has six goals during the streak, while Flyers Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Mike Richards have added six points a piece. Carter by the way leads the Flyers in goals with 28 and points with 53. Mike Richards and his Gold Medal will be facing the Panthers for the 19th time in his career. He has yet to score a goal against Florida, one of only four teams he hasn’t scored against.
As usual the Flyers are faced with a goaltending issue. Ray Emery is gone for the season with a groin problem, and this may prompt Philadelphia to be active during today’s trade frenzy. I can’t imagine that they will head into the playoffs with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher as their goalies. Dwayne Roloson, and our own Tomas Vokoun have both been the subject of potential goalies on the move to Philly. Problem seems to be, cap space and not wanting to give up players that others want. In a way it’s a nice spot to be in as opposed to the Panther situation.
Florida is in the midst of a seven game losing streak and have been unable to score more than two goals in many of their games over the past two months. The power play is atrocious and the overall play has become boring. Coming off last night’s loss to the Atlanta Thrashers by a score of 4-2, the Panthers will try and turn things around on home ice, with potentially a different cast of charachters tonight. Or not.
Atlanta jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in last night’s contest, and I’m sure everyone was thinking that the route was on. Not quite as Weiss and Booth scored for Florida to tie the game at 2 in the first. Not enough though as Atlanta got two more goals from Todd White and Pavel Kubina in the second for the victory. A shaky Scott Clemmensen ended up settling down and made 35 saves on 39 shots, but obviously the rust on Clemmer in the first period was too much to overcome.
I didn’t watch or listen to the game, so no blow by blow recap from me. Curious about tonight’s game especially from the goaltending perspective. If Vokoun is traded, we could see Clemmensen again. Although, if Vokoun ends up in Philly, we could see Vokoun against Clemmensen. Yikes!
The offensively challenged Panthers (i.e. redundant) have clearly shown me that what I have been saying from the beginning of the season is true. Not enough talent, not enough grit, not enough leadership.
It’s going to be a tough rest of the season unless some type or combination of blockbuster deal(s) are made today that could vault them into a playoff position. Just a few weeks ago the Panthers were either in a spot for the playoffs or just shy of one, and now, not surprisingly they are headed the other way. Maybe they will settle down after today’s deadline is over with and play with some more effort, and desperation, but I still will not think that they are playoff bound unless something dramatic happens.
I will be at this game, and will be very interested to see how the day progresses and what we end up doing as far as moves go. Will it be all talk and no action? We’ll see.
As one of the ladies of my house said, “Why bother stockpiling draft picks if we don’t know how to draft”!
Thanks for reading.