With two home shutout losses on their resume for the past week, the Carolina Hurricanes might be happy to be in a familiar situation tonight: on the road.
Despite the team's ridiculous road travels to start the season, the Canes are 5-3 away from the RBC Center and winless — and goalless — in two games in Raleigh. The Flyers — last year's Eastern Conference champions — have had the bulk of their early season schedule at home, playing seven of their 11 games at Wells Fargo Center. The results have been fair, with Philadelphia going 4-3 at home and 6-4-1 overall on the season, good for 13 points and a share of the Atlantic Division lead with Pittsburgh.
The Flyers are also riding a three-game winning streak, with Saturday's 6-1 win over the Islanders showing off Philadelphia’s scoring ability — and also some ’70s-esque bad boy antics.
Danny Briere cross-checked the Islanders’ Frans Nielsen in the helmet late in the game during a Philadelphia 5-on-3 penalty, stunning the Danish center and setting off a near on-ice riot. Here's the hit and ensuing squabble.
Briere, hardly known as one of the league's more rugged players, met with NHL officials today and, according to several sources, has been suspended for three games. That will leave the Flyers without one of their top goal scorers, as Briere has a team-high — along with Claude Giroux — six goals and eight points on the season. The Flyers could also be without injured defenseman Andrej Meszaros (doubtful, according to Philadelphia Daily News beat writer Frank Seravalli) and have recalled Eric Wellwood — brother of former NHLer Kyle — from Adirondack. Wellwood is expected to play in his first NHL game.
As for the Hurricanes, the team made some roster moves over the weekend by reassigning rookies Zac Dalpe and Drayson Bowman to Charlotte and recalling center Jon Matsumoto, a one-time Flyers minor leaguer who was acquired from Philadelphia at the 2010 draft for a seventh round pick. Matsumoto has nine points in 10 games with the Checkers this season, good for a tie for the team lead in scoring. If he were to play tonight, it would be his NHL debut. According to Chip Alexander, Tuomo Ruutu's status for tonight's game is up in the air, but he did participate in the morning skate. He and Patrick O`Sullivan worked at center with wingers Erik Cole and Jeff Skinner at the morning skate. Here's a look at the lines Alexander tweeted from the morning skate:
Ruutu/O`Sullivan centering Cole and Skinner
Staal centering LaRose and Jokinen
Sutter centering Dwyer and Samsonov
Matsumoto centering Kostopoulos and Tlusty
In goal, Justin Peters is poised to make his second start of the season. He was in net for Carolina's 4-3 loss to Los Angeles Oct. 21. Fellow rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was first off the ice for the Flyers at the morning skate. So while coach Peter Laviolette hasn't announced a starter for tonight, expect the 22-year-old Russian to be in net for the eighth time this season.
Go to Broad Street Hockey for more news from the Flyers perspective. We'll have more on the starting lineups as it becomes available.
- With ex-Hurricane Michael Leighton injured, Bobrovsky has outdueled journeyman Brian Boucher for the No. 1 job in net. He is 5-2 on the season with a 2.45 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
- The Flyers have six shorthanded goals already this season, including an NHL-high three by Giroux. Jeff Carter is one of three in the league with two. Giroux is also tied for the league lead with three game-winning goals.
- Briere and Giroux's six goals are tied for eighth in the NHL, while captain Mike Richards' eight assists are tied for 14th.
- Cole is plus-7 on the season, good for a tie for eighth in the league. Jussi Jokinen's minus-7 is tied for 12th worst in the NHL.
- Philly will be without Briere's power play services. He has three power play goals this season, a third of the team’s nine extra-man tallies.
- Philadelphia has been among the league's best five-on-five teams and are tied for seventh at 1.25-to-1 goals for/against ratio. Carolina is among the worst at 0.70, tied for 25th.
- The Canes are scoring on 20 percent of their power plays on the road, but Philadelphia's home penalty kill is at 88.2 percent.
- The Canes have the third fewest penalties per game at 10.6 minutes, while the Flyers have the second most at 21.4. Philadelphia's numbers are bolstered by their 11 major penalties (to Carolina's two) and three misconducts.
Players To Watch
- Carolina: Jokinen has six goals and four assists in 10 career games against the Flyers; Cam Ward, who is expected to back up tonight, is just 3-6-2 all-time against Philadelphia.
- Philadelphia: Boucher is 5-1 in his career against Carolina, boasting a 1.67 GAA and .921 S%; Carter has nine goals and 10 assists in 20 career games vs. the Hurricanes; Scott Hartnell is 7-9-16 in 17 games against the Canes.