Game 14 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Carolina Hurricanes

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Philadelphia Flyers (4-9-0) @ Carolina Hurricanes (4-7-3), 7:30pm, NBCSN/CSN-Philly

One can make the argument that any stretch of games is key to a team’s success for a season, but the next four games for the Philadelphia Flyers might be the most important stretch all season. Playing two teams with as many wins as they currently do in the Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators along with two teams who have less wins than them in the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers, the Orange and Black have a real opportunity to gain some momentum and confidence to perhaps get out of their early-season woes.

It will start tonight with a visit to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes. Luckily for Philly they will take on a team that is struggling just as much as they are, if not more, in terms of finding the back of the net. The Hurricanes have a total of five goals over their last five games. On top of their poor offense, they’ll be without their leader in assists and points with Jeff Skinner ruled out of tonight’s contest. However, nothing can really be considered an easy game for the Flyers this season.

The trip to North Carolina will be two games and four days removed from what will hopefully be the lowest point of the Flyers’ season. Ray Emery’s actions and the seven-goal differential in the final score put the Flyers at 3-9-0. Fortunately, the club was able to rebound the following day with a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. It wasn’t pretty, but they did leave with two points. The second meeting between these clubs will likely be a similar situation. In fact, it might be another ugly 1-0 win for either the visitors or the hosts.

Carolina will be without their first two options in net, as both Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin will be out and Justin Peters will take to the blue paint. Peters has had a tough season so far, as he is 0-5-0 with a .890 save percentage and a 3.49 goals against average. The netminder is also coming off of a game where he allowed five goals to the New York Rangers, another team that has struggled to pot goals this year. Whether or not Peters responds positively or negatively to his game this past Saturday will have an impact on whether the Flyers can grab a must-needed pair of points on the road.

Something that has to come against this stretch of questionable goaltending the Flyers will face over the next week is Claude Giroux’s first goal of the season. The Orange and Black have participated in 13 games already, and their captain has yet to put the puck in the back of the net. Naturally a set-up man, it’s not expected for Giroux to already be in double digits in terms of goals, but to not have a single goal all season is ridiculous. One way or another, whether it’s a beautiful goal, a fluky goal, or an empty-netter, Giroux has to light the lamp soon. The lack of scoring might be a confidence thing for both Giroux and the team, and once the captain registers his first perhaps it will open the floodgates and allow the forward to create even more for others.

Another thing to look at for tonight’s game will be Hal Gill taking part in his second game of the season, while Luke Schenn is a healthy scratch for a second straight game. The older Schenn hasn’t had the strongest season so far. Some believe the back-to-back healthy scratches might mean Paul Holmgren is shopping the blue liner. It most likely it a statement made by Craig Berube and company that the 24-year-old defenseman needs to step up his play. Either way, Steve Mason will endure his first tilt of the year behind Gill.

Philadelphia Flyers
Against the Eastern Conference:
Against the Metropolitan Division:

Carolina Hurricanes
Overall: 4-7-3
Against the Eastern Conference:
Against the Metropolitan Division:

Scott Hartnell – Claude Giroux – Vincent Lecavalier
Jakub Voracek – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl – Sean Couturier – Matt Read
Tye McGinn – Adam Hall – Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen – Andrej Meszaros
Nicklas Grossmann – Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit – Hal Gill

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

Carolina Hurricanes
Jiri Tlusty – Eric Staal – Alexander Semin
Nathan Gerbe – Jordan Staal – Elias Lindholm
Tuomo Ruutu – Riley Nash – Pat Dwyer
Drayson Bowman – Manny Malhotra – Radek Dvorak

Justin Faulk – Andrej Sekera
Brett Bellemore – Ron Hainsey
Jay Harrison – Ryan Murphy

Justin Peters
Mike Murphy

Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Vincent Lecavalier, 5
Claude Giroux, 6
Vincent Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn, 7
Power-Play Points:
Vincent Lecavalier, 4
Plus/Minus: Tye McGinn, Kris Newbury, and Hal Gill – Plus-1
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 34
Average TOI:
Claude Giroux, 21:58
Steve Mason, 2.42
Save Percentage:
Steve Mason, .922

Carolina Hurricanes
Goals: Nathan Gerbe, 4
Assists: Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, 6
Points: Jeff Skinner, 9
Power-Play Points: Nathan Gerbe, 5
Plus/Minus: Jeff Skinner, Plus-5
PIMs: Eric Staal, 18
Average TOI: Justin Faulk, 23:56
GAA: Anton Khudobin, 2.00
Save Percentage: Anton Khudobin, .929

Philadelphia Flyers
Steve Downie – Concussion (out indefinitely)

Carolina Hurricanes
Joni Pitkanen – Broken heel (out for season)
Anton Khudobin – Lower-body injury (out tonight, questionable for Thursday)
Cam Ward – Lower-body injury (Injured Reserve)
Jeff Skinner – Upper-body injury (out, seeking second opinion)
Kevin Westgarth – Upper-body injury (Questionable)

Former Flyers in Carolina’s organization
With Carolina: Joni Pitkanen (out for the season), Rod Brind’Amour (assistant coach)
With the Charlotte Checkers (AHL): None
With the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL): None

Former Hurricanes in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: Adam Hall
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Mark Alt (Hurricanes’ 2nd-round pick in 2010 NHL Entry Draft), Zack Fitzgerald (former Albany River Rat and Charlotte Checker)
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): None