Since the latest road trip, the Flyers have been the little engine that could, chugging along through California and Columbus and back to the Wells Fargo, slowly gaining little “moral victories” and playing slightly better every game earning at least a point over the last 5 games. They finally made it home where their efforts culminated in a small winning streak that was unfortunately cut down by the Lightning. A 4-1 win over the Devils, only their 2nd in 9 games, gave the Flyers something to build off of especially starting their 4 game home stand, then a dominating win over Carolina gave the Flyers a nice little confidence boost. Unfortunately they couldn’t put in a whole game effort against the Lightning leading to a 3-1 loss.
Now the Flyers are hoping to end the home stand on a positive note and bring a bit of momentum into the eight game road trip that begins in Toronto and continues into the new year. In past years the Panthers have been basically a guaranteed win, but the Panthers are seven points ahead of the Flyers in the standings, and the Flyers aren’t doing too well overall.
These are a few things that will factor into the Flyers outcome tonight:
- Apparently Lecavalier will be rejoining the lineup. Berube was non-committal when asked about putting Lecavalier back into the lineup saying “I like the lines as they are, I don’t know what I’ll do,” but Chief also said that Vinny looked hungry. If Lecavalier is coming back in it seems like he’ll be replacing VandeVelde.
- Sitting 6 games may have actually given Lecavalier motivation to be an actual player. While I’m not really anticipating Vinny doing any better than he has before, it is a bit possible that being a healthy scratch for 6 games after never being scratched in his career may have given Vinny a bit of a wake up kick in the nads, maybe we’ll see a Lecavalier that we’ve wanted for years.
- Michael Del Zotto still a healthy scratch. A recent article from Pattison Ave subtly explains why Del Zotto being a constant scratch is irritating. Del Zotto is one of the Flyers better puck moving defensemen; he can create offensive rushes and can handle the puck better than half the D and yet Berube still opts for the slow moving “defensive defensemen”.
- Braydon Coburn is fine. After an awkward fall in the last period of the Tampa game, people thought Coburn may have been injured because he didn’t participate in this morning’s optional practice. Berube said that he was fine however so the defense remains the same.
- Giroux “not paying attention to the standings.” Taking some advice that former captain Mike Richards gave him back in 2010, Giroux is trying not to let the pressure of the bad season get to him. That may have been all well and good in 2010 when the Flyers were a team with the talent to turn a season around and go on to a Stanley Cup run, but this isn’t the 2010 Flyers. The next few games are a bit of a make or break situation. If they don’t start winning that may just be the giving up point for this season.
- The Flyers have a horrendous road record. They suck in other cities this season, no one knows quite why we just know that it’s bad enough to haunt us in our sleep. Going into an eight game road trip, a win at home could provide enough momentum to get a good run out of town. If they lose however, there probably won’t be any confidence to carry them through new years.
- The Panthers won a 20 round shoot out last night. The longest shoot out in history. Not sure if that may have made the Panthers tired enough for the Flyers to have an advantage, but hey we can hope right?
- No one on the Panthers has the mumps as far as we know. This is good because the Flyers can be more physical without fear of contracting the mumps, it’s bad because the Panthers aren’t missing any key players (not that we’re wishing the mumps on any players I’m not that heartless.) The puck also does not have the mumps so the Flyers should feel free to actually win some puck battles and races tonight.
The line ups tonight seem to be something like this:
Raffl – Giroux – Voracek
Schenn – Laughton – Simmonds
Umberger – Couturier – Read
Lecavalier – Rinaldo – Bellemare
Coburn – Schultz
Grossmann – Streit
MacDonald – Schenn
Mason in net.