Hurricanes Record: 20-19-9 (49 pts.)
Flyers Record: 25-19-6 (56 pts.)
The Hurricanes caught a bit of a break from the hockey scheduling gods when they were given two early season home games against the Flyers, who struggled out of the gate. By the end of the evening of November 5th, the Hurricanes had defeated the Flyers twice (a feat they had not previously accomplished since 2006-07), and the Flyers record was a dismal 4-9-1. But since that night, they've rattled off an impressive 21-10-6 record, and their 56 points is good enough for third in the Metro Division.
The Canes may be catching a bit of a schedule break today as well, arriving in town the more rested team. After playing back-to-back home games over the weekend, they had a scheduled day off the ice yesterday before traveling to Philly. Meanwhile, the Flyers were on the road at Nassau for an afternoon game against the Islanders, which they eventually lost 4-3 in a four-round shootout.
Both teams are led in stats by their respective captains and Olympic snubs from Team Canada. Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with 44 points (13g, 31a), and Eric Staal leads the Canes with 39 points (11g, 28a) including 30 points in his last 27 games. Other noted Olympic snub Alexander Semin has three goals in his last two games.
Wayne Simmonds is second on the Flyers in scoring with 37 points and has 7 points in his last five games. Matt Read scored two goals against the Islanders yesterday.
On Saturday, the Flyers signed goaltender Steve Mason to a three-year, $12.3 million contract extension, then pulled him later that evening after he gave up four goals in a game against the Islanders. Ray Emery was solid in relief to preserve a win, and was also in net yesterday for the shootout loss, so Mason will likely be back in tonight. He is 5-1-1 career to date versus the Canes with a 1.85 GAA. Emery is 5-0-0 with a .73 GAA and one shutout in five career games.
Jakub Voracek left yesterday's game yesterday after suffering a hand injury. He will undergo further evaluation today and his status for tonight's game is unknown.
The Flyers rank in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories, but despite giving up two power play goals yesterday, they have been solid on the penalty kill where they rank eighth in the league. This comes in handy because they lead the league in penalty minutes, taking nine penalties for six shorthanded situations yesterday.
Without a practice yesterday, there are no updates to the Hurricanes roster, and it's expected that the lineup will be similar to Sunday's game. The team is scheduled to practice this morning at 11:30 am.
Both Ryan Murphy and Brett Bellemore were healthy scratches and could draw in for tonight's game. Drayson Bowman is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. Cam Ward is still on injured reserve (lower body) and listed as week-to-week but did travel with the team.
Anton Khudobin will likely get tonight's start in net. Dobby is 2-1-0 with a 1.89 GAA and Justin Peters is 1-2-0 with a 3.66 GAA in their respective career appearances against the Flyers.
A player whose name hasn't been discussed much lately is Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who was drafted by the Flyers and played 206 games for them between 2003 and 2007. Pitkanen has been on long term injured reserve after suffering a devastating heel fracture last season, and not only has his NHL career been in question but also his long term prognosis for returning to full health off the ice. Canes fans got a brief update yesterday about Pitkanen, who is rehabbing in Raleigh and making progress albeit slowly.
Let's hope the teams catch a break from the weather gods. Forecasts are calling for six to ten inches of snow in the Philadelphia area, starting around mid-day. We'll have the game thread open by 6:30 pm. See you there.