Panthers to test Flyers' improved goaltending
The host Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers, separated by just one point in the Eastern Conference standings through the quarter-pole of the NHL season, meet Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla.
Philadelphia, which used eight goalies last season and missed the playoffs, has been steadier in the nets so far this campaign.
Carter Hart, 21, has made 12 starts and veteran backup Brian Elliott, 34, has started eight games. Together they have stabilized the Flyers' goalie situation.
Hart, who had a 2.83 goals-against average as a rookie last season and is at 2.50 this year, credits Elliott as a mentor.
"Brian has been a big help to me," Hart said of Elliott, who has a 2.87 GAA. "I really respect his work ethic."
Florida's goalie dynamic is the opposite of Philadelphia situation, with a veteran starter in Sergei Bobrovsky (3.53 GAA) and a 23-year-old rookie backup, Sam Montembeault (2.96).
Bobrovsky, 31, who signed a seven-year, $70-million contract in July after fleeing the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent, ranks tied for 15th in the league this season with seven wins.
Bobrovsky is 54th in GAA and 57th with his .882 save percentage, but he seemingly hasn't disappointed Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, who raved about him following Florida's 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday.
"It was nice to see (Bobrovsky) basically dominate the third period," said Quenneville, who in that contest became just the second NHL coach to win 900 games, joining Scotty Bowman. "When the game was on the line, (Bobrovsky) got us the two points."
Tuesday's contest will be the third of Florida's four-game homestand. Florida is 1-1-0 so far on this stand and 4-2-2 at the BB&T Center this season.
The Flyers are 5-2-3 over their past 10 games overall but just 4-5-1 on the road this season.
A big factor on Tuesday could be Florida's power play, which has produced at least one goal in nine straight games, against Philadelphia penalty kill.
Philadelphia is without perhaps its best penalty-killer, center Scott Laughton, who is out due to a broken finger. The New York Islanders used a power-play goal to rally past the Flyers 4-3 on Saturday, erasing a three-score deficit in the third period.
Meanwhile, Florida's power play went 2-for-3 against the Rangers and is 11-for-30 during this nine-game run.
"The playmaking before the shot is pretty special," Quenneville said of his power play. "Each guy has two or three options when they touch the puck, which is tough to defend."
Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman each have five power-play goals this season, and Aleksander Barkov has four. Jonathan Huberdeau has 11 assists with the man advantage, and defenseman Keith Yandle has 10.
In contrast, Oskar Lindblom and Ivan Provorov lead the Flyers in power-play goals with three each. Provorov, Matt Niskanen and Travis Konecny lead the Flyers in power-play assists with five each.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault has yet to unlock a Flyers offense that features established veterans such as Sean Couturier (six goals) and Claude Giroux (five). Three other Flyers standouts have four goals each: Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.
--Field Level Media
Updated November 18, 2019