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Game 26, Preview and Open Thread: Welcome To Philadelphia, Coach - Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers

#1 Washington Capitals (17-5-6, 40 pts) at #11 Philadelphia Flyers (13-11-1, 27 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN Philly HD
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 207
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Japers' Rink

The John Stevens Era in Philadelphia is over. Tonight, the Peter Laviolette Era begins. And there's nothing like jumping into the fire against the best team in the East.

The Washington Capitals are in town, and in case you live under a rock, they're really good at hockey. 100 goals in 28 games. Just five losses all season long. They come into tonight's game winners of four straight, but they'll be without Alex Ovechkin, who is out serving the second game of a suspension. Former Flyer Mike Knuble is out with a broken finger as well.

For the Flyers, not much will change tonight from a systemic point of view. Laviolette has been coach for less than 24 hours, and he's been in town for just about that long, too. He skated the team hard this morning in a pregame skate in Voorhees and probably tried to get as much of the awkwardness out of the air as possible, but it's impossible to throw a whole new system down in one morning. That wouldn't be good for anybody and Laviolette knows that. Instead, he likely just laid the foundation for what he hopes turns into an aggressive forechecking style of hockey, while knowing that his new team won't have their new coaches philosophy down pat for at least a few practices.

So, if we won't see any big changes tonight, why should we expect the slumping Flyers to triumph over the Capitals? Well, if you don't think a huge message was sent to this team last night, you're dead wrong. They know that this is on their backs now. Expect them to come out hard, against an opponent they aren't too fond of, and give a 120 percent effort tonight.

If they can't do that after getting their coach fired, then why should we even bother?

After the jump, questions to answer, a look at the lines, and your starting goaltenders.

Flyers Line Combinations

Hartnell - Richards - Briere
JVR - Giroux - Carter
Carcillo - Pyorala - Asham
Nodl - Kalinski - Laperriere

Carle - Pronger
Coburn - Timonen
Bartulis - Parent

Starting Goaltenders

Philadelphia - Ray Emery 20 1177 11 7 52 2.65 557 505 .907 1

Washington - Jose Theodore 15 782 6 3 41 3.15 404 363 .899 0

Questions To Answer

  1. How hard do the Flyers come out of the gate? There's no doubt they have a lot to prove tonight.
  2. Will they sustain the effort for the entire game?
  3. How does Ray Emery bounce back from several shaky outings?
  4. Does Kimmo Timonen show any signs of his broken toe?
  5. On an individual level, how do Mike Richards and Chris Pronger, the leaders of this team should be feeling the most blame for Stevens' firing, play this evening?
  6. Can the power play get out of its slump?
  7. How long does the shutout streak continue before the Flyers finally score?