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Game 37, Preview and Open Thread: Coach Pete Returns, Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes

#13 Philadelphia Flyers (16-18-2, 34 pts) at #15 Carolina Hurricanes (9-22-6, 24 pts)
RBC Center - 7:00 PM ET - Raleigh, NC
TV: CSN Philly HD, FS Carolinas
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 208
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: 'Canes Country

With a win tonight against the cellar-dwelling Carolina Hurricanes, the Philadelphia Flyers will put together back-to-back victories for the first time since November 14th and 16th. The Flyers haven't proven that they're capable of doing anything remotely good in the last five weeks, so it'd be a stretch to say tonight will be an easy game for them. Still, with the way Carolina has been playing all season, they're seemingly the easiest team to play against in the league.

The 'Canes are a full 10 points behind the closest teams to them in the standings --Edmonton out West and competitors Toronto and, inexplicably, the Flyers. Regardless of the struggles surrounding all participants tonight, it should be an interesting atmosphere. Michael Leighton returns to face the team he was cast away from just two weeks ago. More important, though, is the story line between the two coaches.

Peter Laviolette replaced Paul Maurice as Hurricanes head coach back in 2003. He went on to win a Stanley Cup in North Carolina before being fired and replaced by Maurice a little over a year ago. Maurice, as mentioned, led the team to the Conference Finals before the hell of this current season.

Tonight, the two coaches will face off against each other for the first time since Maurice's days in Toronto.

Leighton will get the start tonight against the usually reliable Cam Ward. Boucher will be on the bench, but will sit for another night as a precaution. In his last outing, Ward was pulled less than 10 minutes into the game after allowing three goals on 10 shots. After being waived by the Canes, Leighton has a lot of motivation tonight.

The Flyers need a win tonight to build some confidence heading into Long Island tomorrow and MSG on Wednesday. They have a great chance to reel off a few wins heading in to the Winter Classic next Friday, and this stretch could be what they need to help turn the season around. They need a win tonight before thinking about any of that, though.

After the jump, a deeper look at the starting goaltenders, the Flyers expected lineup, questions to answer, and our in-game open thread.

Flyers Line Combinations - subject to change

Hartnell - Carter - Briere
Gagne - Richards- Giroux
JVR - Powe - Asham
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere

Coburn - Pronger
Carle - Timonen
Bartulis - Parent

Starting Goaltenders

Michael Leighton 9 448 2 4 29 3.88 214 185 .864 0

Cam Ward 22 1183 4 13 63 3.20 596 533 .894 0

Questions To Answer

  1. Battle of the goaltenders: does Leighton use the motivation to put in an excellent game, and does Ward return to true form after an embarrassing loss?
  2. Carolina is a terrible PK team. Can the Flyers PP take advantage and start to get themselves back on track after a decent outing against Tampa?
  3. Mike Richards put the team on his back against the Lightning on Wednesday. Does he do it again?
  4. The never-ending question -- after taking the 2nd period off against Tampa, can the Flyers put together a 60 minute effort tonight?

Saturday night hockey tonight on CSN Philly and 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!