After going a lackluster 3-2-1 in their first six games of the season, the Flyers will get yet another chance to begin anew, playing just their second game in 12 days. The first game of three this season against the potential rival Boston Bruins will take place at the Wachovia Center at 7 P.M. Both teams will be wearing knit hats during the warm up skate to promote the Winter Classic.
Riding a three-game losing streak the Flyers are desperate for a win, but even more so, some consistency. Philly has lacked a full 60-minute effort, typically dominating the opposition early on but falling apart late with mental mistakes and empty gas tanks.
The Bruins (4-4-0) are also looking for some consistency, as they have been unable to do more this season than trade wins for losses. On top of the team’s early struggles, the injury bug has bitten them hard. Boston recently placed forward’s Milan Lucic and Marc Savard on the IR with broken bones.
The Flyers have tweaked their forward combinations yet again, in an attempt to spark better consistency and more scoring depth. Claude Giroux returns to centering the third line after a two-game stint on the top line rewarded him one goal and an assist. Ian Laperriere moves to the wing of Giroux and James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham takes aim at the top line aside Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. It appears as if Darroll Powe will be a healthy scratch as Riley Cote will dress on a line with Dan Carcillo and Mika Pyorala. Richards and Carter lead the Flyers’ forwards with 8 points a piece. The Flyers are seventh in the NHL in goals per game with 3.50. Blair Betts remains out with a shoulder injury. He is set to return by the weekend.
Gagne – Richards – Asham
Hartnell – Carter – Briere
JVR – Giroux – Laperriere
Carcillo – Pyorala – Cote
With third-pairing defenseman Ryan Parent injured with a groin tweak, the Flyers have paired together utility defenseman Danny Syvret and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen as the final grouping. Coach John Stevens has expressed interest in giving the third pairing more minutes considering how worn down Chris Pronger has become late in games. Pronger has averaged 28:13 TOI per game. Braydon Coburn is second with 25 minutes. The Flyers’ defense ranks 18th in the NHL, giving up an average of three goals per game.
Timonen – Coburn
Carle – Pronger
OKT – Syvret
In goal for the Flyers will be Ray Emery. Emery is 3-2 with a respectable 2.79 GAA. He has a 4-3 career record versus Boston.
After winning yesterday’s contest against Nashville 3-2, the Bruins are likely to keep the same lineup going in hopes to continue the momentum. However, facing a tough Flyers squad, coach Claude Julien may choose to activate tough guy Shawn Thornton, who is suffering from an undisclosed injury. If he can’t go, Guillaume Lefebvre will likely take the spot. Savard led the team with seven points before his injury, followed by Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder, who have six points each. The Bruins are 19th in the NHL in goals per game with 2.75.
The Bruins have made it clear their lineup is a game-time decision, so this is Thursday’s lineup vs the Preds. If lefebvre is activated, Whitfield will likely be scratched.
Sturm – Krejci – Recchi
Marchand – Bergeron – Ryder
Sobotka – Whitfield – Wheeler
Paille – Begin – Bitz
The Boston defense is the team’s strong suit, led by Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman. However, the Bruins’ blue line ranks 21st in the NHL, giving up 3.12 goals a game.
Chara – Morris
Ference – Wideman
Stuart – Hunwick
The goaltender for the Bruins has not yet been announced. The Boston Globe believes Tim Thomas (6-1 career record, 2.47 GAA versus Philly) will be tapped to go after a stellar performance against Nashville.
If not, Tuuka Rask (1-0 career versus Philly) will be between the pipes.
Thomas is 3-3 with a 3.00 GAA and Rask is 1-1 with a 3.37 GAA this season.