Panther Gameday: Is It Payback Time?





As most everyone knows tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers comes with a ton of baggage, hard feelings, and ill will!  We all know that on October 24th Flyer Captain Mike Richards clobbered Panther winger David Booth, knocking Booth to the ice and knocking him out with a high grade concussion.  Booth hasn’t played since and has just started skating for the Panthers.  Meanwhile, there was no retaliation during the remainder of that game and to pour salt on an open wound, a few Flyers players accused (rightly?) of the Panthers being soft!

So here we are back to the sight of the crime incident.  I’m not going to go on and on about the hit, and what should have been done, and suspensions and all that other stuff.  It’s virtually old news.  The Panthers have an opportunity to take advantage of a team that is down, not playing well, and one that has certainly not lived up to the high expectations of the beginning of the season.  Speaking of expectations, the Flyers fired their coach John Stephens and replaced him with former Carolina Hurricane coach Peter Laviollette

The Panthers did recall for tonight’s game Steve MacIntyre and Mike Duco.  These players were not called up from Rochester to help with the power play, or the penalty kill for that matter.  No, they were called up for protection and to possibly send a message to the Flyers that what Richards did to Booth deserves payback. 

At the expense of screwing up and missing out on two points, I’m not so sure that Big Mac and Duco will get enough ice time to make a difference, however if the opportunity presents itself, then yes they should deliver a message.  That’s why they are here.  But let’s not get carried away either as I’m sure the Flyers are not shaking in their skates worried about the punishment that Florida could deliver.  It’s not like we are the Anaheim Ducks or Calgary Flames, two teams known to fight their way through games.  My concern is that things get out of hand and the Panthers end up in a blood bath.  We aren’t know for toughness you know.

Anyway as for the actual matchup, Florida still finds itself in the playoff hunt and the Flyers are on the outside looking in at this point.  The Flyers seem to be suffering from the same thing that Panthers do.  Playing a full sixty minutes and having the tenacity to finish games as well as having poor starts.  The Flyers have lost three in a row, are 14th in the Eastern Conference and 29th overall in the NHL.  The Panthers sit in the eight spot in the East, but have given up 121 goals, which is not something to be proud of and that must get better.  Florida is 4-3-3 in their last 10 games.

Stevie Wonder, Lazy Ass, Michael Frolik and even Bryan McCabe are the “hot” players for Florida.  No one really on that list for Philly as they are defintely trying to find their way.

Brian Boucher will most likely start for the Flyers as Ray Emery is out with an abdominal injury and is not expected back until late January.  Look for Tomas Vokoun to get the start in net for Florida.  Dmitry Kulikov will be out for the Panthers until sometime in January as he suffered a knee injury in Friday’s game against Carolina.

After a weekend that should have resulted in four points the Panthers only were able to grab two, but are still in the eigth spot in the conference.  Tonights game should be about winning first, sending a payback message second.  Disciplined hockey with an edge.  I’m not really sure if that’s possible for this team.  Why not start Big Mac, Duco, and whoever on the 4th line and let them get it over with on the first shift?  Then things can maybe settle down and these teams can continue fighting scrambling for their playoff lives?

Thanks for reading.