#5 Philadelphia Flyers (27-15-9, 63 pts) at #14 Atlanta Thrashers (18-30-5, 84 pts)
Philips Arena - 3:00 PM EST - Atlanta, GA
TV: CSN HD, SportSouth HD
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 206
This is the open game thread.
ATDHE.net Live Video Stream
Behind Enemy Lines: Bird Watchers Anonymous, an SBN blog
What To Watch For: Apparently, the Thrashers aren't going to be much of a threat today. Check out this post written Friday from The Falconer.
And despite the terribly long odds, in early January the team showed some signs of turning in a positive direction. For the first time all year they managed a sustained period where they were competitive in the shots on goal over multiple games. However, it all vanished after the All-Star break and the team effort level collapsed.
Since the All-Star Break the Thrashers have been out shot 177 to 135 (allowing 30+ shots in every contest) and out scored 15 to 6. Their playoff hunt has been over for quite a while and now they are playing like a group that has--well--nothing much to play for. Amazingly the Thrashers still have 29 games left in this season--and given the effort level of the team--wins will be few and far between.
>> The Falconer, SBN's Atlanta Thrashers blogger
Couple that with the fact that the Antero Niittymaki absolutely owns the Thrashers, and it's what seems to be a pretty easy win for the Flyers. Of course, this is the NHL and anything can happen, but this is a game the Flyers cannot allowed to slip away.
This is the first in a stretch of games against non-playoff opponents for the Flyers. After the Thrashers tomorrow, they've got the Senators and Islanders at home before a critical stretch against the Sabres, Rangers, and Capitals. If they can't stack up a few vital points here, those games become must wins. Philly needs these games here.
Antero Niittymaki, the Great Wall of Finland: 12-0-0 lifetime against Atlanta. 1.40 GAA in eight games at Phillips Arena.
Scouting the Enemy: Atlanta has struggled lately, as The Falconer said, and most recently they got crushed by the Devils 5-1. Kari Lehtonen was pulled in the second period after allowing five goals on 24 shots, but if you had to put your money on who starts Sunday, it would probably be Lehtonen. He's never beaten Niittymaki, but backup Johan Hedberg hasn't started a game in three weeks. That stat The Falconer threw out -- the Thrashers have allowed 30+ shots in every game since the all-star break -- is impressive, no matter how bad your team is.
Atlanta Thrashers Injuries
Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards should be back in the lineup for the Flyers.
Questions To Answer
- Does Niittymaki keep up the brilliance against Atlanta?
- Does the defensive pairing of Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent stay together, and if so do they have as good a game as they did Saturday?
- The PP broke out on Saturday for two goals. Can they capitalize on Atlanta's abysmal penalty killing?
- The Flyers severely cut down the penalties on Saturday. Can they keep it up?