Tonight's matchup with the Flyers begs a few questions. Broad Street Hockey's Travis Hughes was kind enough to answer ours.
Kevin Kraczkowski, LBC: Thus far this season (after three games), the Flyers have been outscored 11-3. What is the main problem?
Travis Hughes, BSH: It's been a mix of things. The offense can't really get going at all for sustained periods of time, the defense is slow and bad at hockey, the penalty kill has been a nightmare and seemingly every single bounce and call are going against them. Hard to pinpoint just one thing, unfortunately. That'd be nice.
KK: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov - does he have what it takes?
TH: Yes. He's a good goalie and has been the Flyers' best player all year. He had a bad year last year and when you couple that with the added media exposure to his quirks and his massive, massive contract, it snowballed. And it's unfortunately on the brink of snowballing this year again, even though he hasn't been an issue at all. His contract is bad for the Flyers. He is not.
TH: He's been awarded the C already, and he absolutely deserves it. To me, the captain isn't necessarily the player that speaks up the loudest or leads the strongest. That's the ideal view of a captain, but really, the captaincy is as much about in-room and on-ice leadership as it is about symbolism. This is Giroux's hockey team, it will be for the next decade-plus (knock on wood) and the C on his chest represents that.
KK: In a compressed season, giving the likes of the Penguins, Devils, and Rangers a three-game head start is hardly the best way to do business. The Flyers have advanced to the playoffs in 15 of the last 16 seasons - how would the Philadelphia fanbase handle a May without hockey?
TH: Take it back take it back don't even speak of it again kthanks
Seriously, the Phillies might be bad again, the Sixers aren't a playoff team and the Eagles are ... well, hahahaha. So we kind of need the Flyers to be competitive for our collective sanity.
KK: What is the Flyers' biggest strength - and how can the Panthers beat them?
TH: It's been a rough start and it's tough to talk strengths, but it's pretty clear their strength remains their top line. Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell are always dangerous on the ice together. Beyond that, it's all kind of been a crapshoot this season, but every time that top unit steps on the ice they're a threat to put the puck in the net. The Panthers can beat them by praying to whatever Gods you guys worship to down there in Florida (...and maybe just line match really well).
My thanks to Travis for his time and answers. If you'd like to read my own thoughts about the Panthers & Flyers prior to this evening's game do check out Broad Street Hockey. Make sure to keep it tuned here for our preview at 1 p.m., followed of course by the LBC Live GameThread at 7.