The Philadelphia Flyers’ solid road play to open the season has helped pave the way for their best start since 2002-03.
The Atlantic Division-leading Flyers look to continue their success away from home and try for their sixth consecutive victory when they face the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night to begin a key season-high, six-game road trip.
Philadelphia (6-1-0) opened by winning two of its first three games - all on the road - and hasn’t lost since falling 5-3 on Oct. 6 at Edmonton. The Flyers, off to their best start since going 9-1 with two ties in 2002-03, look for their first six-game winning streak since Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2005.
Florida (3-5-0), though, swept the four-game season series from the Flyers in 2006-07 after the Flyers won all four meetings the season before.
“It’s a real good challenge for us to see where we end up after these eight games,” Philadelphia coach John Stevens told the Flyers’ official Web site. “We’ll have a pretty good read of where we’re at and a pretty good read of how we withstand the pressures of playing on the road.”
Last season, the Flyers lost seven of their first eight games away from home and finished 12-24-5 on the road. Only Washington’s 11-23-7 road record was worse in the Eastern Conference.
Each game on the upcoming trip will be against a conference opponent, with the final three contests against Atlantic foes.
“These eight games could be a big difference at where we are in the standings when we come back,” said Simon Gagne, who scored twice, including in overtime, in a 3-2 win over Carolina on Saturday. “It’s maybe something that we’re going to look back on at the end of the season as making a difference.”
Richards looks to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games. Briere, meanwhile, has posted four of his team-high seven assists in his last three games. Last season with Buffalo, Briere had a goal and four assists in four games versus Florida.
Martin Biron, who has started every game in goal this season for the Flyers, made a season-high 42 saves against Carolina. He was 1-2-0 versus Florida last season, with the win coming on Nov. 10, also while with Buffalo.
Florida, which is looking to avoid its first three-game skid this season, lost 4-1 at Ottawa on Saturday and finished 1-2-0 on their Canadian road swing.
Richard Zednik scored a power-play goal Saturday for the Panthers, but they went 2-for-15 with the man advantage on the trip after scoring five power-play goals in two previous wins.
“Our power play was terrible,” Florida captain Olli Jokinen told the Panthers’ official Web site after being held scoreless on the trip following a stretch in which he posted six points in his first five games. “All the guys on the power play better take a look in the mirror.”
Jokinen scored in a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia on March 20 in the teams’ most recent meeting.
Tomas Vokoun made 43 saves for Florida on Saturday as he returned after missing a game with a mild ankle sprain. Vokoun won his last start versus Philadelphia - 4-3 in a shootout on Dec. 3, 2005 - while with Nashville.