Tonight at the Wachovia Center, two of the Eastern Conference’s hottest teams meet in an early-season heavyweight match up. The Washington Capitals and the home-coming Flyers are 2-0 on the season, both smiting the early opposition in convincing fashion, putting the out-of-division rivals on a collision course.
Flyers’ backup goaltender Brian Boucher returned to the lineup on Monday after being forced to take a short stint on the IR due to a groin tweak suffered in the preseason. Goalie Johan Backlund was returned to the Phantoms.
Defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will also return to the lineup, but will remain inactive for Tuesday’s home opener. Rookie defenseman MA Bourdon was returned to the Phantoms.
Despite Boucher’s return, the Flyers plan on starting Emery for the next three contests, Tuesday against Washington, Thursday against Pittsburgh and Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.
In tonight’s preseason debut at the Wachovia Center against the Detroit Red Wings, the Flyers have slimmed down their roster and will be presenting a squad that will look very similar to the one on opening day.
For the first time all preseason, the team will stack its defense with its top-two pairings, partnering Kimmo Timonen with Braydon Coburn and Chris Pronger and Matt Carle.
Simon Gagne will also be making his preseason debut and a groin tweak slowed down his participation in training camp. The longest tenured Flyer will play on a line with Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk.
Goaltender Ray Emery is expected to play the entire game.
Projected line combos
Simon Gagne – Mike Richards – James van Riemsdyk
Scott Hartnell – Jeff Carter – Danny Briere
Lukas Kaspar – Claude Giroux – Mika Pyorala
Dan Carcillo – Darroll Powe – Jason Ward
Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Chris Pronger – Matt Carle
Ryan Parent – Danny Syvret
Ray Emery – Brian Boucher
It may not have been a real game, but it was the closest thing so far.
The Flyers held two intra-squad scrimmages on Tuesday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., one being dominated by Jeff Carter and the other Ray Emery.
Newly minted Flyers’ goaltender Ray Emery, will appear on next month’s cover of The Hockey News titled “Ray of Hope.” Make sure to pick it up, THN is always a good read.
The Hockey News is running a month-long online feature, predicting the finish of every team by the conclusion of the 2009-10 season. And with only a few slots left, the Flyers chimed in at number four in the East.
“Why: The addition of Chris Pronger turned an emerging blueline into one of the NHL’s top units. New goaltender Ray Emery has a chance to be a big upgrade over Martin Biron, assuming the ex-Kontinental Leaguer keeps his head about him. The Flyers are now even tougher to play against and remain deep at forward, especially down the middle.”
Yet to be selected is the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Kurz
A special thanks to the Flyers’ Kevin Kurz (@Flyersonthefly) for producing never-before-seen photos of the brand new Ray Emery mask. With a white base color, on the goalie’s left it features Philly boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, with the right side showing boxing Hall of Famer Joe Frazier. The back has Rocky Balboa draped in an American flag, below the text “Razor.”
Emery, a die-hard boxing fan, sported a mask prior to joining the Flyers, featuring pugilist Mike Tyson. That particular helmet caused a stink due to Iron Mike’s complications with the law. Emery has also sported Marvin Hagler and Jack Johnson on his equipment.