Panthers, Flyers meet for first time since Booth injury
Monday, 12.21.2009 / 7:00 PM
NHL.comPANTHERS (15-15-7) at FLYERS (15-17-2)
: Florida 4-3-3; Philadelphia 2-7-1.
: This is the third of four meetings this season. They split the first two games, with each winning at home. Radek Dvorak and Steven Reinprecht scored in the third period to break a 2-2 tie Oct. 16. A week later, Danny Briere
had 2 goals and an assist and James van Riemsdyk
had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 Flyers win.
: What will happen when these teams meet for the first time since Mike Richards
' vicious shoulder to the head of Florida's David Booth? The blow knocked Booth unconscious, and he had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and spend the night at a Philadelphia hospital with a concussion. Booth, who had 31 goals last season, hasn't played since.
-- Florida is coming to Philadelphia with some extra ammunition. On Sunday, the team called up Mike Duco and Steve MacIntyre from their AHL team. Duco has 43 penalty minutes in seven NHL games, while MacIntyre has 10 penalty minutes in four games.
"I don't know if we're just going to run around and try to fight everybody we see," defenseman Keith Ballard told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "It's one of those things: I'm sure the League will be watching this game, they always pay attention to stuff like that. And I'm sure any hit on Mike Richards
that's looked at as retaliation will probably be punished, which is going to end up hurting our team again."
At the same time, Ballard said, "if an opportunity's there to be physical, we'll take it."
-- Simon Gagne came through his first game in almost two months feeling pretty good. Gagne had hernia surgery in October, and in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers, he had an assist in 20:16 of ice time, the second-most he's had all season.
"For the first game, I felt pretty good," he told the team's Web site. "The thing I was looking forward to was to play the game and feel good. From a surgery standpoint, it felt very good, and so it's a good thing."
-- Strong play by the Panthers' twosome of Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss have catapulted Florida into playoff position. In the last six games, Horton has 3 goals and 10 points, while Weiss has a six-game scoring streak, during which he has 4 goals and 9 points. Flyers forward Claude Giroux
has points in two straight for the Flyers.
-- Panthers rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is out indefinitely with a knee injury that coach Peter DeBoer called "significant." Also out is forward Kamil Kreps (shoulder/ribs), who could return as soon as Wednesday's game against the Rangers. Booth, who hasn't played since suffering the concussion on the Richards hit the last time these teams met, is traveling with the team and skating on his own. The team hopes he can return to practice sometime after Christmas.
Flyers forward Darroll Powe
, who hasn't played in a month due to a shoulder injury, could return Monday.
-- Of the 16 teams currently holding playoff spots, Florida is the only one that allows more goals per game (3.14) then it scores (2.76).
-- While the Flyers certainly go into Monday's game worried about how Florida might retaliate for the Booth injury, they have their own game to concern themselves about.
Philadelphia had another slow start, and coach Peter Laviolette blasted them in a timeout just 5:16 into the game.
"It was a poor start," Laviolette said. "There's no excuse for it. I can't think of one reason why we would come out flat, and we did. And we needed a time-out to try to refocus. I would have thought we would have ripped the hinges off the gate tonight to get out on the ice. We were so far from that, in my opinion, to start the game, and we got what we deserved."
The Flyers have lost three straight and five of their last six to fall to 14th in the Eastern Conference.