Flight Plan: Southeastern Hospitality

Image courtesy of NJ.com

The Philadelphia Flyers kicked off their first home stand with a bang, beating the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 5-3. Despite a lackluster third period, the Flyers were able to hold on for their third win of the 2013 season as Danny Briere, Braydon Coburn, Kurtis Foster, and Mike Knuble all netted their first goals of the year. The Orange and Black will strive for more consistency this week as they will play host to three Southeast Division teams after their second two-day break in a week. The Flyers face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, the Florida Panthers on Thursday, and the Carolina Hurricanes again on Saturday. You can pick up tickets to all three games here: http://www.tiqiq.com/nhl/philadelphia-flyers-tickets/?publisherid=1260333. Wayne Simmonds joins Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros on the mounting list of key players who are injured for Philadelphia. Luckily, both Briere and Matt Read have three points in their last two games while Claude Giroux has yet to really get going, despite gathering two points against Carolina. Ilya Bryzgalov has been an absolute revelation, posting a .920 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average through eight games.

Tampa Bay Lightning @ 7:30 PM in Philadelphia, PA:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are white-hot as they’ve gone 6-2-0 on the year, scoring 39 goals in the process. The Bolts have a good group offensively in veterans Steven Stamkos (seven goals, nine assists for 16 points), Martin St. Louis (three goals, 11 assists for 14 points), Vinny Lecavalier (four goals, seven assists for 11 points), and Teddy Purcell (two goals, seven assists for nine points). Surprising upstart Cory Conacher has potted five pucks and helped on seven others for 12 points while playing on the top line, while former-Flyer Defenseman Matt Carle has amassed six points (one goal, five assists) thus far. Philadelphia as decimated by Tampa Bay in the last go around, but hopefully that was due to them playing the Lightning in the second half of a back-to-back set. The Flyers should be much more prepared and well-rested, given they will have had a couple days off between games this time. If the Flyers want to win, they will have to post more than the 19 shots they mustered against this defensively sound team, and continue the power play success they achieved against the Hurricanes as they went 3-3 on the man advantage. If they can accomplish both of those objectives, the Flyers should be able to place themselves back in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference as a true contender and not just a fringe player.

Florida Panthers @ 7:00 PM in Pihladelphia, PA:

The Panthers were pounded by Philadelphia the last time the two teams met. The 7-1 victory saw Matt Read score a hat-trick, and both Tye McGinn and Luke Schenn grab their first goals in the 2013 campaign and as Flyers. Ruslan Fedotenko also notched his first of the year in this rout, but the Flyers cannot take this team lightly if they expect to gain two points in the standings. They still need to watch out for Calder Trophy fandidate Jonathan Huberdeau (two goals, three assists for five points), old-new-NHLer Alexi Kovalev (two goals, two assists for four points), underrated Peter Mueller (four goals, one assist for five points), dangerous defenseman Brian Campbell (four goals, two assists for six points), and the oft-injured team leading Tomas Fleischmann (two goals, five assists for seven points). Keeping that regiment of scorers in check could be difficult, but if the Flyers can provide some goal support while doing so, they’ll be able to get back in the hunt for a playoff spot in this abbreviated schedule.

Carolina Hurricanes @ 1:00 PM in Philadelphia:

The Hurricanes couldn’t match the Flyers’ desperation in the first two periods, which led to Philadelphia’s third win on the year this past Saturday. The Flyers knew they needed those two points to remain in contention in the East and responded accordingly. Despite having a -5 goal differential like the Flyers, the ‘Canes have also won three games, and are a really scary team up front. With the likes of Eric Staal (six goals, three assists for nine points), Jordan Staal (six points, all assists) , Jeff Skinner (five goals, one assist for six points), and Alexander Semin (one goal, four assists for five points), they can stir up an offensive storm in no time at all. If Philadelphia wants to earn the two points in this second meeting of the season, they’ll need to take the same approach they did on Saturday and be opportunistic, while taking care of the biscuit between the blue-lines as the Hurricanes were able to generate most of their chances off of Flyers’ turnovers in the neutral zone.