GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (25-11-10-5) at Florida Panthers (17-21-10-3).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EDT.
Robert Esche has removed any doubt that he is the No. 1 goaltender on the Philadelphia Flyers.
Esche looks to lead the resurgent Flyers to their sixth win in seven games when they face the Florida Panthers for the third time this month.
Esche had been splitting time with Jeff Hackett most of this season despite posting superior numbers in wins, goals-against average and save percentage. Esche, however, is the team's undisputed starter now that Hackett has been sidelined two weeks with vertigo, caused by an inner-ear infection.
It is uncertain when Hackett will return, so Esche is expected to make his seventh consecutive start Wednesday.
Esche has performed very well in Hackett's absence, winning five of six starts while allowing nine goals. He needed to make just 12 saves in a 4-1 victory at Washington on Sunday.
The line of Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Michal Handzus combined for three goals and seven assists, leading Philadelphia to its fifth win in six games following a six-game winless streak.
``I find that you're never as bad as you think you are and you're never as good as you think you are,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``And after all the fury is over and you look at the game, you find that there's a very fine line between winning and losing in this business.''
Continuing their strong play will be more difficult for the Flyers because right wing Tony Amonte _ their fourth-leading scorer _ is expected to be sidelined two weeks with a knee injury sustained Sunday.
``I talked to Tony today,'' Flyers center Jeremy Roenick said. ``He's pretty sore, and he doesn't feel good. He hasn't missed too missed many games in his career. He's very frustrated. He's lucky he didn't snap his leg off. He feels fortunate about that.''
Philadelphia, winner of seven straight at the Office Depot Center, is 13-3-2-1 against the Panthers since the start of the 1999-00 season.
Florida failed in a bid to win its season-high third straight game Monday, falling 5-2 to the New York Rangers.
Kristian Huselius and Bryon Ritchie had goals for the Panthers, who dropped into 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
``They played a good game and they played hard. But the fact is we had 40 shots,'' Panthers coach Rick Dudley said. ``We didn't capitalize on enough of them.''
After stopping 71 of 73 shots in back-to-back wins over Washington and Boston, All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo gave up four goals on 37 shots on Monday.
I never used the words easy win in a game day thread, but when you look at the parameters and our record at the Office Depot Center, i'm calling for a two point success tonight.
Handzus, Leclair (2), and Markov gets on the board
The big question is whether this is a game that Brashear will decide to show up like the Leafs and add energy and space or the Habs game and be a no show.
Also how long are they going to wait to get someone to play along side of JR and Comrie? Brash is killing those guys.
i agree, ride Esche, he's posting some good numbers this year...we'll never know if he'll be a legitimate starter if we don't give him Brodeur minutes. It's funny but i seem quite confident when Eschey's guarding the net, haven't had that feeling for a while in Philly. God please let him be the answer, i for one am fed up of the media singling out our "ghastly" goaltending.
I guess I was trying to say he should start today because we are playing the Panthers...You know not throwing him into the fire. Then again with a game coming up versus the penguins I can see him getting a start there.
I too have alot of confidence in Esche, the thing I like the most is apposed to earlier in the season or when Hacket played there are no weak goals being let in. I just hope Clarke doesn't trade for a goalie for the sake of it, I don't want to see Esche lose his confidence.
Darren Pang just said he talked to Amonte this morning and said that Tony told him he was going to stay with the team and try to play on Saturday. It'll be pretty crazy if he only misses 1 game; it looked like he was going to be gone a long time.