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Owen Tippett returns as Flyers begin fresh slate after rough month

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Philadelphia Flyers were probably much happier than the Florida Panthers to go on break.

It was a rough month of January for the Flyers, going 6-7-1, while their opponent tonight went 8-2-3. Regardless, the Flyers have a clean slate, and should be reenergized for action tonight. Additionally, Owen Tippett will return to face his former team, who is one of the Flyers’ main sources of offense. We understood that the combinations of key players getting hurt, going on cold streaks, and parting ways was a lot to manage. There aren’t excuses now. The break is over, and people are going to be held accountable as well as you would suspect from head coach John Tortorella.

It really has been the Sunshine State for the Florida Panthers as of recent. They ended their last week before the break on a 4-game winning streak. It looks flashy, but to be fair, they were beating on the likes of the Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the New York Islanders, so, not a lot of heavy hitters. The Flyers will have a lot more to throw at this Panthers team, and perhaps have an extra pep in their step for their teammate Owen Tippett.

Recalibrating the Tipp

Philadelphia had a hard month, and a lot of that can be contributed to playing against some of the best in the league. We can excuse the games against the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning, but there was a line that was drawn. It was the Flyers fumbling a 3-1 lead against the Ottawa Senators, and a lackadaisical effort against the Red Wings by getting shutout 3-0.

As I noted in my game preview against Detroit last month, the Flyers have taken a small step back from their structure, when it was fully evident in their pure dominance over the Dallas Stars with a 5-1 final score. The goalies became a bit human that month as well, allowing a few more goals than we would have expected in 2023. However, the players have gotten their time off. Players like Travis Konecny (struggled scoring in January), and Owen Tippett (injury) and Sean Couturier (allegedly got banged up in January) returning in full health will be key for this game.

Flyers Special Teams Are Good

The penalty kill unit finished strong in the last week of January, killing 10/13 penalties for a 76.9% success rate. Funny enough, that is actually a bit below their season average of 85.9% success rate. This speaks to how great they have been this season. Aside from one game, they didn’t allow a single goal against shorthanded. The power play, while still not great, has made large improvements. Their power play over their last 4 games of January went 3/12, or 25%. This is up from their season average 13.3% success rate. Even just one power play goal can change the shape of the game, and the Flyers will want to use their fresh legs to capitalize on their next opportunity tonight.

Beating Florida

I’m not going to lie, this Panthers team is sharp. They boast the 10th best powerplay and 9th best penalty kill in the league, and they are not going to want to take the dumb penalties we were taking in that last week of January. Quick, decisive movement and passing for a good shot will be crucial for this Flyers power play. Florida’s goaltenders are no joke either, both clearing .900 SV%.

With that being said, teams like the Penguins and Islanders took them to overtime. So how did they do it? Well, it starts with not giving up. Even though the Panthers scored first, and ultimately last in the end, each time was able to respond and retie the game. I also noticed in the games against Pittsburg and New York, the Panthers gave up the game tying goals that sent them to OT in the last 2 minutes of the 3rd period. So it seems like at least then, the Panthers will struggle holding a lead.

Now that doesn’t mean you allow the Panthers to score first. The Flyers usually win games when they score first, so that should still be the plan. It’s still important information to have, because we know this team isn’t going down without a fight.

PHI Record: 25-19-6, 56 pts, 3rd in Metropolitan

FLA Record: 31-14-4, 66 pts, 2nd in Atlantic

When: 7:00pm ET

Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise, FL

Broadcast Info: NBC Sports Philadelphia, 97.5 The Fanatic

Last Game PHI: 1/27/24, 6-2 L vs. Bruins

Last Game FLA: 1/27/24, 3-2 OTW at Islanders

PHI Goalie: Samuel Ersson (12-8-3, .898 SV%, 2.60 GAA, 3 SO)

FLA Goalie: Anthony Stolarz (8-4-2, .916 SV%, 2.11 GAA, 0 SO)

PHI Projected Lineup

#74 Owen Tippett – #14 Sean Couturier – #89 Cam Atkinson

#86 Joel Farabee – #48 Morgan Frost – #11 Travis Konecny

#71 Tyson Foerster – #25 Ryan Poehling – #27 Noah Cates

#21 Scott Laughton – #19 Garnet Hathaway

#6 Travis Sanheim – #9 Jamie Drysdale

#8 Cam York – #55 Rasmus Ristolainen

#24 Nick Seeler – #26 Sean Walker

#5 Egor Zamula

#33 Samuel Ersson

#40 Cal Petersen

Scratches: #18 Marc Staal, #44 Nicolas Deslauriers, #62 Olle Lycksell

Injuries: None

FLA Projected Lineup

#17 Evan Rodrigues – #16 Aleksander Barkov – #13 Sam Reinhart

#23 Carter Verhaeghe – #9 Sam Bennett – #19 Matthew Tkachuk

#27 Eetu Luostarinen – #15 Anton Lundell – #21 Nick Cousins

#12 Jonah Gadjovich – #82 Kevin Stenlund – #94 Ryan Lomberg

#42 Gustav Forsling – #5 Aaron Ekblad

#77 Niko Mikkola – #62 Brandon Montour

#91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson – #7 Dmitry Kulikov

#41 Anthony Stolarz

#72 Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratches: #18 Steven Lorentz, #28 Josh Mahura

Injuries: #67 Will Lockwood

News and Notes

– Philadelphia is 57-37-7-6 all-time against Florida and has won the last two meetings against the Panthers.

– The Flyers will be running into some former players in Nick Cousins and Anthony Stolarz. Cousins played 107 games for the Flyers between 2014-2017, and scored 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points total over that span. Anthony Stolarz played 19 games for the Flyers between the 2016-17 and 2018-19 seasons, holding a record of 6-4-4 in that time. He had an .918 SV%and 2.70 GAA with the Flyers.

– The Flyers have not won in Sunrise since February 13th, 2020, a span of four road games. However, they are 30-20-1-2 against the Panthers on the road all-time.

– Cam Atkinson leads all active Flyers in goals (11), assists (10), and points (21) against Florida in 30 career matchups.

– Sportsnet’s Elliote Friedman has rumored that Travis Konecny may get an extension this summer.

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