Coming off of their first win of the season the Flyers were eager to take that number to two against a Florida Panthers team that were the mirror image of the Flyers through four games. While the Flyers lost their first three contests before getting a win, the Panthers had lost three in a row since winning their season opener.
After a great effort with a shorthanded lineup against the Rangers on Thursday the Flyers welcomed a couple players back to lineup, amongst a myriad of other changes. Brayden Schenn returned from his one game suspension. Danny Briere made his season debut, returning from a wrist injury. Mike Knuble donned the orange and black for the first time since 2009. And with Andrej Mesaros out with a shoulder injury, Kurtis Foster was back in the lineup.
The ice was tilted in the Flyers’ favor almost from the get go en route to a 7-1 Flyers victory, including the first career hat trick by Matt Read, and the first career NHL goal and assist by Tye McGinn. Eleven different Flyers registered at least one point on the night as they put together their second consecutive sixty minute effort in as many nights.
Ilya Brzygalov was outstanding in net again, making 30 saves on 31 shots; the lone goal coming on a breakaway from Peter Mueller.
The special teams, which were very poor to start the season, were a strength tonight. The Flyers killed all four of the Panthers’ power play opportunities, while capitalizing on two of their seven chances.
Luke Schenn had his best game as a Flyer contributing a goal and an assist to go with a whopping eleven hits, in nearly 20 minutes of ice time.
With the rout in full effect, the Flyers had the luxury of rolling all four lines, and resting some of their stars. Both Claude Giroux and Kimmo Timonen played less than 18 minutes, well below their 21 and 23 minute per games averages through the first four contests. It should serve them well as they are back at it in less than 24 hours in Tampa Bay.
It will be interesting to see if there will be any lineup changes against the Lightning. Kurtis Foster wasn’t particularly impressive in a game in which his team thoroughly dominated. He played almost two full minutes less than Timonen, who was being rested. I’d be curious to see if the recently recalled Andreas Lilja might replace him against the Lightning.
More interestingly, Scott Laughton played his fifth game of the season, which means it is decision time for the Flyers. If he dresses against the Lightning, it will effectively activate the first year on his entry-level contract. The Flyers could opt to send him back to the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals, where he would play a much larger role and continue his development.
Notes: The Flyers scored more goals against Florida (7) than they had in their first four games of the season (5)… The Flyers hadn’t scored any first or third period goals in the 2013 season before tonight…Matt Read joined Eric Lindros as the only Flyers to score hat tricks against Florida…The Flyers were 1-3 against Sunday’s opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, last season.