For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers have a losing streak, and with a road game against the Florida Panthers set for Wednesday night, it’s a particularly bad time for a skid.
The Flyers have lost three straight games, including a 4-0 blowout against the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
Next up is a game with the Panthers, who are 10-0-0 at home this season, the NHL’s only unbeaten home mark.
“We’re going to have to show our best effort going to Florida,” Flyers center Derick Brassard said.
That’s true given that the Panthers are No. 1 in the NHL in goals scored, and they are third in shots on goal.
The Panthers have been so good that they are 2-0 with nine goals scored in the two games since their best player, center Aleksander Barkov, went down with an injury.
Florida, which last played on Saturday and will be far more rested than the Flyers, beat the New Jersey Devils 4-1 and the Minnesota Wild 5-4 without Barkov.
The Panthers, in fact, are starting to get attention from Las Vegas oddsmakers as a top-three Stanley Cup contender.
“(Our players) should be really proud that they have pushed themselves to be in that conversation,” Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has scored just 18 goals over its past 11 games, and the Flyers’ offense ranks in the bottom six in the NHL in terms of goals per contest.
The Flyers are without a couple of key players, including second-line center Kevin Hayes, who scored a total of 35 goals over the previous two seasons. He is out due to an abdominal injury, and he has played just two games this season, scoring one goal.
In addition, defenseman Ryan Ellis is out at least one month due to a lower-body injury. He was supposed to form a shut-down pairing with Ivan Provorov.
The Flyers lost to the Panthers 4-2 in the teams’ only meeting so far this season, at Philadelphia on Oct. 23. Wednesday will give Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle another chance to beat his former team. The Panthers bought him out of his contract on July 15, and the Flyers signed him 12 days later.
So far, Yandle has no goals and five assists in 17 games, and he has a minus-9 rating.
The Flyers, who have missed the playoffs in five of the past nine seasons, will need even more from their captain, Claude Giroux, who shares the team lead with seven goals and is tops with nine assists. The next three Flyers on their points list are also forwards: Sean Couturier (five goals, eight assists), Brassard (four goals, seven assists) and Cam Atkinson (seven goals, three assists).
Florida will counter Philly’s struggling offense with a stellar defense led by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who is 8-0-2 with a .937 save percentage and a 1.99 goals-against average. He is expected to be in goal on Wednesday night.
The Panthers are led in assists (12) and points (18) by winger Jonathan Huberdeau.
Anthony Duclair is tied with Barkov for the team lead with nine goals. Duclair has 16 points, and Carter Verhaeghe and Aaron Ekblad are next on the chart with 15 points each.
–Field Level Media