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Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes: Game Day Preview

The Carolina Hurricanes (6-8-3) may have eked out a home-ice win vs the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night, but the "drum beats on" as Peter Laviolette's Philadelphia Flyers (9-4-3) arrive for another tough match at the RBC Center tonight. The Flyers will be playing the 2nd half of a back-to-back, having secured a 3-2 win in Sunrise last night. Since becoming head coach at Philadelphia 2 years ago, Laviolette has a 6-1 record vs his former team in Raleigh.

Coach Paul Maurice will continue with the lines that got the win Saturday, with Eric Staal staying at Brandon Sutter's left wing and Chad LaRose on the opposite flank. Both Staal and Maurice have stated the Captain would remain at wing for a while longer, though it seems that his return to center is expected somewhere in the near future.

Defenseman Joni Pitkanen remains sidelined with a lower-body injury so young defenseman Derek Joslin will make his 3rd appearance of the season. Zac Dalpe will also get another game, as Anthony Stewart is the 13th forward and a healthy scratch.

Cam Ward will get the start. It was Brian Boucher who took the 5-1 loss the last time these teams met in Philly on October 29th.

The Canes have been on the weak side of playing the second half of back-to-backs with travel as the visiting team three times (going 0-2-1) so far this season. Those three games are also Boucher's 3 starts. Tonight's game is the first time Carolina has been the rested team, awaiting an opponent in a similar situation. McKeen's Hockey put together some interesting charts to compare how this circumstance of tired/rested b2b's helps or hurts all 30 teams in the NHL in this story, 2011-12 NHL Records B2B Nights

Lines, according to the Depth Chart

Eric Staal - Brandon Sutter - Chad LaRose
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Tim Brent - Patrick Dwyer
Jiri Tlusty - Zac Dalpe - Zach Boychuk


Tim Gleason - Jay Harrison
Bryan Allen - Jamie McBain
Tomas Kaberle - Derek Joslin


After practice, Maurice indicated that he will look for opportunities to use Staal at center during the game, matched with Zach Boychuk and Jiri Tlusty. As a home game, with last change, one could see this be the right time to experiment to give the younger players the best match-ups.

Tonight is Jeff Skinner's 100th NHL game which is commemorated with the Jeff Skinner bobblehead for the first 10,000 fans through the doors. The sophomore was named first star of the game Saturday with a goal and 2 assists, as well as drawing a penalty. He continues to thrive with his Finnish linemates, as Ruutu (2 G)  and Jokinen (2 A)  both added 2 points to their stat totals vs Pittsburgh. Through 17 games: 

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - 12 Jeff Skinner 7 10 17 -6 12
2011 - 12 Jussi Jokinen 3 8 11 4 10
2011 - 12 Tuomo Ruutu 6 2 8 -2 8


Skinner has generally been quiet vs the Flyers. In 5 career games, #53 has a goal and an assist and with a plus/minus rating of -3. 


Flyers perspective

For the Flyers, both Chris Pronger and Danny Briere were sidelined when these 2 teams met last. Now both are healthy and set to be in line up. But it's the legend Jaromir Jagr matched with young sniper Claude Giroux and rough-and-tumble Scott Hartnell that are leading the team for points. Those three combined for 9 points when the Flyers enjoyed a 5-1 romp over the Canes last month. Here are their stats after 16 games:

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - 12 Claude Giroux 9 10 19 2 8
2011 - 12 Jaromir Jagr 6 9 15 5 10
2011 - 12 Scott Hartnell 6 7 13 6 22


In 9 career games vs the Canes, Giroux has an equal number of points with 2 goals, 7 assists. In 70 career games vs the Carolina/Hartford franchise, Jaromir Jagr has put up 101 points. 

You may remember the Canes helped Ilya Bryzgalov find his way "out of the woods" in that last game. However, he was in goal in last night's win over the Panthers, so perhaps we'll see young Sergei Bobrovsky manning the pipes for Laviolette tonight. (Updated per @ice_chip)

The Flyers had some extra days in Florida this past week, and used the time for some team bonding. They are certainly hitting their stride as a team, with a 3-0-2 record in the month of November. They are among 4 teams with 21 points tied for 2nd in the Eastern Conference. A win tonight would move them to the top spot.

For more on the Flyers, be sure to head over to Broad Street Hockey.

I'll update with links as they appear this afternoon.

  • Audio from Paul Maurice after practice. [3:38]
  • Broad Street Hockey's preview has the Flyers lines, etc. Game 17 Discussion Thread
  • NEW at 2:30pm Canes set for another bruising game - Canes Now "I've liked what he's done here this year," Maurice said of Boychuk. "I liked the ways he plays and I like the way he competes. He just has to continue to do that and continue to play like that and eventually he will get more ice time in a role that's a bit more offensive, where he can be that player."
  • Hurricanes vs. Flyers - Tracking the Storm Tonight will be Jeff Skinner's 100th game in the National Hockey League.  “He certainly has made things happen in those 100 games, hasn’t he?” Maurice said. “There’s a lot of guys that run 100 games and you have a hard time putting a highlight reel together, but for him, you get your money’s worth out of those.” 
  • It was an optional skate for the Flyers today, but Jagr was one of a few who was out there. Chip Alexander got some great quotes: At 39, Flyers' Jagr 'still has it' - Canes Now "He's been terrific, offensively and in general," Laviolette said. "He's helped our power play. He clearly still has it, the way he plays the game with his skill level and his talent.

From the Media notes


  • CAR point-per-game career players vs. PHI: Derek Joslin - one assist in one game. [seriously? that's it?]
  • Cam Ward is 4-8-2 with a 3.15 GAA in 14 games against the Flyers. Brian Boucher is 0-3-0 with a 4.36 GAA in three appearances.
  • PHI point-per-game career players vs. CAR: Jaromir Jagr - 101 points (34g, 67a) in 70 games, Claude Giroux - nine points (2g, 7a) in nine games, Scott Hartnell - 23 points (11g, 12a) in 22 games, Wayne Simmonds - four points (1g, 3a) in four games.
  • PHI netminder Ilya Bryzgalov is 2-3-1 with a 3.07 GAA and one shutout in six games vs. CAR. Sergei Bobrovski is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in three games.