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Game 7, Preview and Open Thread: Winter Classic Preview, Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers

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Boston Bruins (4-4-0, 8 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (3-2-1, 7 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
Radio: 610 WIP (internet stream), XM 206, Sirius 219
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Stanley Cup of Chowder

In a preview of this years Winter Classic, the Flyers will face off against the Boston Bruins for the first time on the year tonight at the Wachovia Center. While the orange and black haven't played since Saturday, the Bruins are coming off of a game just a night ago, squeaking out a 3-2 home victory over the Nashville Predators.

The story in Boston thus far this season has been injuries. Milan Lucic and Marc Savard are both out for extended periods of time, and losing Phil Kessel in a trade with Toronto has taken considerable bite out of their lineup. Still, they are a dangerous team and they are a worthy test as the Flyers look to snap a three-game losing streak.

For Philadelphia, the story will be shaking off the rust. Playing in their second game in 12 days, the Flyers are sure to be rusty. They looked terrible, especially on the defensive end, in Saturday's 4-2 loss in Florida, and they are going to need a much more solid effort in order to please the home fans this evening in South Philly.

Coach John Stevens has altered his lineup considerably for this evenings game. In practice today, Arron Asham played on the top line with Simon Gagne and Mike Richards, while Mika Pyorala has moved down to the fourth line. There are conflicting reports on who will sit out of the Flyers lineup, Riley Cote or Darroll Powe, but the wings on the fourth line will be Mika Pyorala and Dan Carcillo. Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, and Ian Laperriere take third line duties while Jeff Carter will center Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere on the second line.

On defense, with the injury to Ryan Parent, it looks like we'll see a bottom pairing of Danny Syvret and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. John Stevens said earlier in the week that he wants to see those two get more ice time to take less burden off of the top two pairs. It will be interesting to see how long that experiment lasts.

In goal, the Flyers will go with Ray Emery -- no shocker. Tim Thomas played for Boston last night, so we could see Tuukka Rask in goal for the Bruins.

After the jump, questions to answer and a chat with the enemy.

Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder answered a few of Geoff's questions earlier in the week. Here's the exchange...

Broad Street Hockey: Much like the Flyers, your Bruins are off to a slow start. Both teams are expected to challenge for Eastern Conference supremacy, but neither are playing like it so far. What's the atmosphere like in Boston, particularly the attitude of the fans?

Stanley Cup of Chowder: The natives are starting to get a little restless. The expectations were set pretty high this year.

BSH: Milan Lucic just went on IR after surgery on his broken finger. With the Phil Kessel trade, the Chuck Kobasew trade, and now this, the Bruins are missing 144 points (42 from Lucic) from last year's team. How will the departures of Kessel and Kobasew, and the injury to Lucic affect this team, both now and over the course of the season?

SCoC: Lucic being on the shelf is a big hit to the B's. He brings a physical edge and energy that is clearly missing when he isn't in the lineup. As for Kessel and Kobasew, as Mark McGwire would say "I'm not here to talk about the past, I'm here to talk about the future". With Marco Sturm and Patrice Bergeron healthy and a talented group of young players waiting for their shot at the NHL level, I think someone will step up and fill that void.

BSH: Last year, Boston led the league in fewest goals allowed. This resulted in Tim Thomas winning both the Jennings and the Vezina trophy last year, but this year Boston ranks 22nd in that category. Is this a reflection on the team, the goalies, or just a poor start?

SCoC: You can't really blame the Bruins' poor start on goaltending, the group in front of them hasn't been very good either. That being said, Thomas and Rask can certainly play better than we have seen so far.

Questions To Answer

  1. How does the defense as a whole perform after a terrible group outing last Saturday?
  2. How long does the Syvret/Tollefsen getting more minutes experiment last?
  3. Can the well-rested Flyers take advantage of a team coming off of a game last night?
  4. How many hot dogs are consumed by the Wachovia Center crowd on dollar dog night?

Tonight's game is on Comcast SportsNet in the Philadelphia area and the NHL Network across the United States (not in Canada). You can listen on 610 WIP and, as always, join us here for the discussion. Me? I'll be at the Wach adding to that total of hot dogs eaten. LET'S GO FLYERS!