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Game 21, Preview and Open Thread: Rocky Mountain High, Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche

Philadelphia Flyers (12-7-1, 25 pts) at Colorado Avalanche (13-7-3, 29 pts)
Pepsi Center - 9:00 PM ET - Denver, CO
TV: CSN Philly HD, Altitude HD
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 237
Outside the Philly area, watch free online at Yahoo!
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Mile High Hockey
Tonight is a big game for the Philadelphia Flyers.
No, I'm not saying it's a "must win" -- I'm not going to throw that ridiculously overused phrase out there. If the Flyers lost tonight, the season will be just fine. Obviously. It's November.
But a win tonight would be big. This road trip, as I wrote prior to the game in Los Angeles, is quite possibly the most difficult of the year. They're playing four strong teams in multiple time zones and traveling hundreds of miles, all with just two off days in between. To go 1-3 on such a trip is a failure, but 2-2 is a success.

With a win tonight in Colorado, they'll do just that. With Blair Betts and Darroll Powe out of the lineup, however, it doesn't prove to be an easy task. Andreas Nodl and Jared Ross have been called up to fill their spots, and they'll play on a line with their old Adirondack buddy, David Laliberte. Is that a way to "limit the damage" so to speak, or does John Stevens really think he can get something out of a line with three AHL players on it?

It appears Stevens wasn't content with Claude Giroux's minutes, either. He'll now move back to the wing, playing with center Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell. Mike Richards will play between James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere. Mika Pyorala will take Blair Betts' spot between Dan Carcillo and Ian Laperriere.

And it's Laperriere who returns to Colorado for the first time since leaving in free agency. He played four seasons in Denver and was a fan favorite. Fans out west still love Lappy, but they clearly don't like us very much thanks to our Cooperalls and our Lindros-Pronger's. Mile High Hockey on that subject after the jump...

Philadelphia, of course, is the new home of Ian Laperriere. He bolted after failing to reach an extension agreement with the Avs, signing a 3-year, $3.5 million dollar deal with the Flyers. While I'm rooting for Lappy, I detest the team he plays for. I've always hated the Flyers. I originally was going to say that hatred goes back to the days of that douchebag Eric Lindros, but I realized it goes back even farther. I first started getting into hockey in the early 80s. And what did the Flyers look like in the early 80s? Idiots. It might seem silly as I didn't have the same hatred of the Whalers, another Cooperalls team, but even as a new fan I thought long pants on hockey players looked ridiculous and I have hated the Flyers ever since. The fact that guys like Lindros and Chris Pronger (one of the few hockey players I flat out despise) have played for them only enhanced my festering dislike.

I've always kinda liked Colorado. Maybe it's the colors, maybe it's Joe Sakic, or maybe it's the fact that they were the hated rival of the Red Wings, and any enemy of the Red Wings is a friend of mine. Nevertheless, those are fighting words. Don't you dare insult Cooperalls and think you're going to get away with it, Avs fans....

Colorado leads the Northwest Division thanks to an excellent start to the season, but they're holding on for dear life. 3-6-1 in their last ten, they've lost their last two and are simply not playing good hockey right now. They take a lot of penalties -- second worst in minor penalties in the league -- so hopefully our boys can get the power play clicking again with several chances. The special teams were the major reason the Flyers lost to both Phoenix and San Jose over the weekend, an atypical truth for a team that's extremely solid on both the PK and power play. Colorado is weak in both departments, so the orange and black have a strong chance to get both units back on track tonight.

Probable Goaltenders

2009 - Ray Emery 18 1091 11 6 44 2.42 515 471 .915 1

2009 - Craig Anderson 21 1260 12 6 53 2.52 685 632 .923 2

Questions To Answer

  1. How many minutes does the AHL line log tonight?
  2. Can Mika Pyorala have the same kind of chemistry Blair Betts did with Laperriere and Carcillo?
  3. Can the special teams get back on track tonight?
  4. Do the line changes adversely effect players who seemed to be benefitting from the old order, namely James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux?

Tonight's game will be broadcast locally on CSN Philly and 610 WIP. 9:00 PM local time. As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!