Preview: Flyers @ Panthers, 10/10/15

10/10/15 – 7:00 PM ET 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Flyers (0-0-1) 0
@ Panthers (0-0-0) 0

At A Glance

Top 5 Scorers

*All stats below are from the pre-season

Florida Panthers

Player Goals Assists Points
1. Aleksander Barkov 0 0 0
2. Nick Bjugstad 0 0 0
3. Dave Bolland 0 0 0
4. Connor Brickley 0 0 0
5. Quinton Howden 0 0 0

Philadelphia Flyers

Player Goals Assists Points
1. R.J. Umberger 0 2 2
2. Brayden Schenn 1 0 1
3. Matt Read 1 0 1
4. Scott Laughton 0 1 1
5. Evgeny Medvedev 0 1 1

Projected Lineups

Florida Panthers

Forwards LW C RW
Line 1: 11 – Jonathan Huberdeau 16 – Aleksander Barkov 68 – Jaromir Jagr
Line 2: 73 – Brandon Pirri 27 – Nick Bjugstad 18 – Reilly Smith
Line 3: 36 – Jussi Jokinen 63 – Dave Bolland 21 – Vincent Trocheck
Line 4: 86 – Connor Brickley 17 – Derek MacKenzie 22 – Shawn Thornton
Defensemen LD RD
Pairing 1: 51 – Brian Campbell 5 – Aaron Ekblad
Pairing 2: 7 – Dmitry Kulikov 6 – Alex Petrovic
Pairing 3: 33 – Willie Mitchell 44 – Erik Gudbranson
Goaltenders Record SV% GAA
1 – Roberto Luongo (confirmed starter) 0-0-0 .000 0.00
35 – Al Montoya 0-0-0 .000 0.00

Scratches & Injuries

Player Status Description
Rocco Grimaldi Injured reserve Ankle sprain
Steven Hodges Injured reserve Off-season surgery
Quinton Howden Available Healthy scratch
Steven Kampfer Available Healthy scratch
Dylan Olsen Available Healthy scratch
Marc Savard Long-term injured reserve Concussion

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards LW C RW
Line 1: 12 – Michael Raffl 28 – Claude Giroux 93 – Jakub Voracek
Line 2: 10 – Brayden Schenn 14 – Sean Couturier 17 – Wayne Simmonds
Line 3: 24 – Matt Read 21 – Scott Laughton 20 – R.J. Umberger
Line 4: 76 – Chris VandeVelde 78 – Pierre-Édouard Bellemare 25 – Ryan White
Defensemen LD RD
Pairing 1: 55 – Nick Schultz 32 – Mark Streit
Pairing 2: 15 – Michael Del Zotto 23 – Brandon Manning
Pairing 3: 82 – Evgeny Medvedev 22 – Luke Schenn
Expected Starting Goaltender Record SV% GAA
35 Steve Mason (expected starter) 0-0-1 .906 2.90
30 – Michal Neuvirth 0-0-0 .000 0.00

Scratches & Injuries

Player Status Description
Sam Gagner Available Healthy scratch
Radko Gudas Available Healthy scratch
Vincent Lecavalier Available Healthy scratch

Between the Lines

The Panthers will open their 2015-16 season at home against the Philadelphia Flyers after a long, grueling 6-month off-season which saw the the departure of several veterans, the emergence of a handful of prospects, an improved depth chart, and a renewed sense of confidence and optimism inside the locker room. The pre-season ended on a low note last Saturday after the Panthers allowed three straight goals in the final minutes of the 3rd period to lose 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning at home. The two Panther goals were scored by Derek MacKenzie, who is a member of the recently-revamped 4th line, and Nick Bjugstad, who one-timed the puck top-shelf on the power play. You can check out the recap of that game here.

The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their season opener in Tampa on Thursday by a score of 3-2 after Jason Garrison slid the puck five-hole on Flyers goaltender Steve Mason on a breakaway in 3-on-3 overtime. Mason stone-walled the Lightning several times in OT before the game-winner with some incredible pad and helmet saves. Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout, with each scoring an even-strength and powerplay goal. Nikita Kucherov returned to the line-up for the Lightning after missing Tampa’s October 5th pre-season game against the Panthers due to a lower-body injury he sustained in the game prior to that. Jonathan Drouin, who was selected after Aleksander Barkov in the 2013 Draft, notched two assists in the game on goals scored by Garrison and Ryan Callahan.

One of the storylines for the Panthers is that rookie Connor Brickley will reportedly not be making his NHL debut on opening night tonight. George Richards of the Miami Herald and Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel (see below) both alluded to the fact that Shawn Thornton will likely start in place of Brickley. We’ve talked a lot about Brickley on here recently and for good reason, too. His surprising, but impressive play during the rookie tournament, pre-season, and training camp practices earned him a roster spot while also taking one away from David Booth, Martin Havlat, and Garrett Wilson. It’s possible that management wants Thornton to provide a calming presence during the game or be an enforcer against a notoriously physical Flyers team. There’s also the possibility that Saturday could be Thornton’s final opening night if his retirement is looming. However, the Panthers already have other players who have the ability to play physical, like Erik Gudbranson and Alex Petrovic, as well as veteran leaders in Willie Mitchell and Jaromir Jagr, so it remains unclear as to why Brickley could potentially not draw into the lineup come Saturday.

Updated 10/10/15: Looks like Brickley will get to make his debut tonight after all, although it’ll be at the expense of speedy winger Quinton Howden being scratched. In the end, the Panthers will still be missing a speed element with Howden up in the press box instead of on the ice. Howden’s speed and skating ability were instrumental in scoring the first goal of the Panthers’ final pre-season game last Saturday.


The Panthers will look to get off to a strong start this season after dropping their first 3 games of the season last year. This year, however, the Panthers will have the services of Jaromir Jagr from the beginning after acquiring him in a trade from New Jersey in late February, as well as Brandon Pirri who was a healthy scratch for a stretch of games early on last season. All of the Panthers’ young players are also a year older, including 2014 1st-overall pick Aaron Ekblad who’s coming off a Calder Trophy-winning season, and Jonathan Huberdeau who signed a new 2-year contract just under a month ago. The Cats are 6-3-1 in their last 10 season openers. They lost last year’s season opener against Tampa 3-2 in overtime after the new long-change rule allowed the Lightning to enter the offensive zone uncontested and score.

Pre-Game Reading

Be sure to check out the following COTP articles written over the past few weeks to be sure you’re ready for game #1;

2015-16 Florida Panthers Season Preview

Meet the newest Panther: Reilly Smith

Season Preview: Who is Our Competition?

Top 15 Panthers Prospects

The State of the Panthers’ Goaltending Depth 2.0

Brickley ready to make an impact at the NHL level

Off-season, pre-season prove Panthers’ depth is better than ever

Last game vs. Philadelphia

The Panthers are 32-42-7-5 all-time against the Flyers and won the season series last year 2 games to 1. Here’s a video recap of the Panthers’ last game against the Flyers which was on December 18th.

Pre-game Tweets

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