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Keeping Up With Everyone Else

Friday, 01.16.2009 / 12:34 PM ET / Preview
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Keeping Up With Everyone Else
The Panthers and Flyers meet for the first time this season. Last year, the two teams both took home two victories in the series. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

SUNRISE – Coach Peter DeBoer admitted recently he’s been doing a little scoreboard watching.

“I’ve been watching Carolina, Buffalo…everybody,” he said. “It sounds like it’s early in the year to do that, but it really isn’t. With the parity in the league and a playoff spot usually coming down to one or two points – I think (two) teams missed by less than two points last year – it’s going to be a fight right to the end.”

While scoreboard watching is a welcome pastime to Panther fans, its also underscores the importance of games like tonight at BankAtlantic Center against the Flyers and Saturday in Tampa against the Lightning.

The Panthers, who enter tonight’s game 4-0-1 in their last five games, are a single point from a playoff spot and second place in the Southeast Division. They also have three games in hand on Carolina (eighth in the conference, second in the Southeast) and two games in hand on Buffalo (seventh in the conference).

But the Panthers also realize tonight’s game is critical. The Panthers haven’t played since Jan. 10, when they crushed the Thrashers 8-4. That victory was followed by two days off, and the last time that happened during Christmas they went winless in their next four games.

“Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned,” said DeBoer following Friday morning’s skate.

DeBoer made it point to remind his team earlier in the week of the consequences of their last break. He also skated them hard over the past three days at IncredibleIce.

“I think that’s the main thing, those hard practices we had this week that got us ready,” said forward Anthony Stewart. “Before we sort of skated and it wasn’t too hard. But the coach made sure we got ready for tonight. Everyone’s got their legs ready and I think it showed (Thursday) in practice.”

“We have to make sure we don’t take any steps back,” said center Stephen Weiss.

The Flyers come into BankAtlantic tonight off a 4-1 loss Thursday in Tampa and have lost four of six. The Flyers aren’t happy and are expected to play an aggressive, physical game tonight against the Panthers.

“We’re not paying a big enough price to win a hockey game right now,” said Flyer coach John Stevens after his team’s loss in Tampa. “We didn’t match their level of desperation and the result was indicative of that.”

Added captain Mike Richards; “We’re just getting outworked. It’s kind of embarrassing how much they outworked us.”

DeBoer, who coached Richards in junior hockey, said the captain’s comments weren’t exactly what he wanted to hear first thing Friday morning.

“The worst news of my day was seeing Mike Richards call his team out in the paper,” DeBoer said. “I’ve seen that before in juniors with him for four years and usually the aftermath of that isn’t too pretty for the opposing team. So, hopefully, we can respond in the right way.”

The Flyers bring an explosive offense into BAC led by Jeff Carter (22 goals, 48 points), Richards (44 points) and Simon Gagne (18 goals). They’re sixth in the league in goals for (147) and third in the East. They also lead the league with 13 short-handed goals.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun gets the start for the Panthers tonight. He’s won three consecutive games, stopping 83 of 91 shots. Vokoun is 11-12-1 with a .915 save percentage and 2.81 goals against.

“The key tonight will be getting the forecheck going early, try to get the first goal, and take them out as soon as possible,” Stewart said.

“We have to make sure we’re ready to put pressure on them and pressure their defense,” Weiss added. “As soon as we start thinking too much, we get ourselves in trouble. So we have to go out and move our legs and play 60 hard minutes.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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