Game 39 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Vancouver Canucks

Image courtesy of vancouversun.com

Philadelphia Flyers (18-16-4) @ Vancouver Canucks (23-11-6), 10:00pm, CSN-Philly/SNET-P

After they edged out a shootout decision against a familiar face on Saturday night, the Philadelphia Flyers look to make it two straight road wins and three straight overall when they take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight. Although the Canucks will be without Roberto Luongo and a few other key players, the Pacific Division club is 10-1-1 over their last 12 games and are 6-0-0 at home in December.

It goes without saying the Orange and Black can’t have the start they had in Edmonton, as Steve Mason saw Taylor Hall beat him in the game’s first minute and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it 2-0 a few ticks over four minutes into the affair. In addition to the early goals, Mason needs to improve his numbers overall for this game, as the Oilers beat him three times on 16 shots. One came from a horrible turnover from Braydon Coburn in the opening minute to leave Mason helpless and another tally was a bank shot from David Perron off of Nicklas Grossmann in the crease, but Philly’s netminder should have had Nugent-Hopkins’ attempt early in the first period. Despite his back-and-forth statistics as of late, Mason has won his last four decisions and the visitors will need him to provide a stellar performance if they want to have a shot against the red-hot Canucks.

Vancouver has been winning with strong five-on-five play and by keeping their opponents off the scoreboard. Going 3-1-1 in their last five games, the Canucks only have one power-play goal and beat the Chicago Blackhawks on the road. Of their 12 games since December 1st, the Canucks have only allowed more than three goals against in one contest and have allowed one goal or less in six of the games. Although it sounds nice not playing Luongo, facing Eddie Lack won’t be an easy task for the Flyers. The Swedish netminder has won his last five decisions and hasn’t lost since November 10th against the Anaheim Ducks, as he is 7-2-0 with a .933 save percentage and a 1.74 GAA.

One way the Flyers will look to beat Lack and the Canucks’ defense is with their power play. The man advantage counted for all of the Flyers’ goals on Saturday, as the club has scored at least one power-play goal in three of their last five games thanks to the recent play of Wayne Simmonds. If tonight’s contest comes down to a crucial power play for the Orange and Black, hopefully the power forward can come through once again.

It is a tough game for the Flyers tonight, but it would be huge if Philly comes away with any amount of points tonight, as they take on one of the hottest teams in the NHL to start a back-to-back on a long road trip. Knowing they play the Calgary Flames tomorrow night with Ray Emery most likely in net, who has lost his last four decisions and hasn’t won since November 21st against the Buffalo Sabres, tonight’s contest is big if the Flyers want to have a positive road trip.

RECORDS
Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 18-16-4
Road: 7-9-4
Against the Western Conference: 5-6-1
Against the Pacific Division: 2-3-0

Vancouver Canucks
Overall: 23-11-6
Home: 11-5-3
Against the Eastern Conference: 12-4-2
Against the Metropolitan Division: 8-2-1

PROJECTED LINEUPS
Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Vincent Lecavalier
Steve Downie – Adam Hall – Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Andrej Meszaros

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Mike Santorelli
David Booth – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Zac Dalpe – Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Jason Garrison – Yannick Weber
Kevin Bieksa – Andrew Alberts

Eddie Lack
Joacim Eriksson

TEAM LEADERS
Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Wayne Simmonds, 12
Assists: Claude Giroux, 25
Points: Claude Giroux, 35
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux, 16
Plus/Minus: Erik Gustafsson, plus-4
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 92
Average TOI: Braydon Coburn, 22:50
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.37
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .921

Vancouver Canucks
Goals: Ryan Kesler, 15
Assists: Henrik Sedin, 25
Points: Henrik Sedin, 34
Power-Play Points: Daniel Sedin, 13
Plus/Minus: Mike Santorelli, plus-15
PIMs: Tom Sestito, 97
Average TOI: Dan Hamhuis, 23:37
GAA: Eddie Lack, 1.74
Save Percentage: Eddie Lack, .933

INJURIES
Philadelphia Flyers

Erik Gustafsson – Knee (Injured Reserve)

Vancouver Canucks
Andrew Alberts – Undisclosed (Questionable)
Roberto Luongo – Lower-body injury (Injured Reserve)
Alexander Edler – Lower-body injury (Injured Reserve)
Ryan Stanton – Ankle (Injured Reserve)
Alexandre Burrows – Jaw (Injured Reserve)
Jordan Schroeder – Ankle (Injured Reserve)

FORMER PLAYERS
Former Canucks in Philadelphia’s organization
With Vancouver: Tom Sestito, Andrew Alberts, Joacim Eriksson (drafted by Flyers in 2008), Inge Hammarstrom (Scout)
With the Utica Comets (AHL): Kent Huskins, Nolan Baumgartner (Assistant Coach)
With the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL): Joel Martin (Trenton Titans)

Former Flyers in Vancouver’s organization
With Philadelphia: None
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Zack Fitzgerald, Mike Matczak (Kalamazoo Wings)
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): None