SUNRISE, Fla. -- With just three games left to play, Peter Horachek’s Florida Panthers may not be headed to the playoffs or have much to care about except making a final impression on management heading into the offseason.
Tonight’s matchup at BB&T Center with the Flyers, however, affords his Panthers a chance to play the role of spoiler.
A Flyers victory of any sort will clinch a playoff spot for Craig Berube’s club. In Horachek’s mind, that’s reason enough to give the Flyers a game of it.
“They are going to come out, and we have to be at our very best,” Horachek said. “We want to be competitively strong. We expect them to be at their best. We know where they are for the playoffs. And how important every point is for them positionally. They’re going to be desperate. We have to accommodate and play a strong game. It’s a great test for some of our young players to go up against veterans players who are desperate and taste that kind of desperation.”
Outside of the five goals the Flyers scored Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers have struggled to get goals period during three of their last five games.
“You can’t put much stock into that,” Horacheck said. “They’re a veteran team full of good players. [Claude] Giroux has 80 points and he’s one of the most dangerous guys on the ice. They’ve got a power play with [Scott] Hartnell and [Wayne] Simmonds, who has 26 goals. He’s made a career in front of the net now down there.
“They got players like [Kimmo] Timonen who are world class players … who have been there before. Every single team in the league goes through slumps. Every team go through periods of time where they’re not scoring. And it’s hard to score in this league.”
The Panthers get two players back in the lineup tonight off the injury list in Brad Boyes (back spasms) and Jonathan Huberdeau (concussion).