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Keeping Up With Everyone Else

Friday, 01.16.2009 / 12:34 PM / 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

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.”




1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43


N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
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