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Flyers-Panthers preview: Florida may feast on Philly’s special teams



Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers
High-scoring right winger Cam Atkinson and the Philadelphia Flyers will face Florida on Thursday. Photo: Zack Hill.

Unless goaltender Carter Hart stands on his head again, the Philadelphia Flyers will have a difficult time matching up with the host Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Florida, which  leads the NHL in goals per game (4.12), has more speed, more skill, and more motivation as it is trying to win the Atlantic Division.

Oh, and the Panthers’ sizzling specials teams should have a feast.

You want numbers?

The Panthers have won four straight, during which they are 7 for 17 on the power play (41.2%) and 13 for 13 on the penalty kill.

The Flyers’ power play is 4 for 52 (7.7%) over the last 17 games, and their PK is 21 for 29 (72.4%) in the 11 games since the All-Star break.

PHN: Cam York returning to Flyers’ lineup

Philly is coming off a franchise-record eight game homestand; they went 3-4-1, collecting one-goal wins over Chicago and Vegas in the last two games.

The Flyers have been competitive with Florida this season, losing a pair of one-goal games, excluding an empty-net goal in one of the contests.


Can Hart continue the magic he displayed Tuesday when he made a career-high 47 saves and beat Vegas, 2-1? The Flyers were outshot, 48-21.

Can Florida sweep the season series from the Flyers? The Panthers won at the Wells Fargo Center, 4-2, on Oct. 23 against Hart.

In that game, Owen Tippett – who is believed to be on the Flyers’ radar as one of the potential pieces in a Claude Giroux trade – scored for Florida to knot the contest at 2-all. Jonathan Huberdeau had two goals and former Flyer Sergei Bobrovksy made 27 saves..

Florida then scored a 2-1 OT victory Nov. 24 as Aaron Ekblad had the winning goal against Martin Jones (43 saves). Bobrovsky made 32 saves.

Flyers’ projected lineup

Line 1: Scott Laughton centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.

Line 2: Derick Brassard centering Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson.

Line 3: Kevin Hayes centering Oskar Lindblom and James van Riemsdyk

Line 4: Patrick Brown centering Gerry Mayhew and Zack MacEwen.

Defense: Ivan Provorov and Justin Braun; Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen, Keith Yandle and Cam York.

Goalie: Hart.

Numbers Dept.

While the Panthers lead the league in scoring (4.12 per game), the Flyers are 30th (2.52). Florida is 14th in goals allowed (2.88 per game), and Philly is 24th (3.38).

Who’s hot?

Center Aleksander Barkov (26 goals, 57 points) has three goals and 12 points in his last six games for Florida.

For the Philadelphia Flyers, Atkinson (20 goals, 42 points) has three goals and five points over the last five games.

Projected goalie matchup­­­

Hart (2.88 GAA, .913 save percentage) will make his fifth start in the last six games. He will be opposed by the 33-year-old Bobrovsky (2.55, .916). In his career against the Flyers, “Bob” is 17-5-1 with a 2.21 GAA and .926 save percentage. If only the Flyers had known what they had.

How to watch

NBC Sports Philadelphia at 7 p.m.

How to bet

Money line (FanDuel)

Flyers: plus-265.

Panthers: minus-335.


Panthers 5, Flyers 2.

Prediction record: 19-6.

Could Claude Giroux be reunited with Peter Laviolette in D.C.?

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