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Game 46, Preview and Open Thread: Thursday Night Fights? Philadelphia Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs

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#7 Philadelphia Flyers (23-19-3, 49 pts) at #14 Toronto Maple Leafs (15-23-9, 39 pts)
Air Canada Centre - 7:00 PM ET - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 204
This is the open game thread.
Get Toronto reaction at Pension Plan Puppets

Back on December 21, the Flyers were preparing to host the Florida Panthers in a game at the Wachovia Center. It was the first meeting between Florida and Philadelphia since Mike Richards knocked the crap out of David Booth. All signs pointed to the Panthers sniffing revenge. As we wrote in previewing that game...

Florida general manager Randy Sexton was pretty ticked off about the hit in his post game comments back in October, which forced Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to tell Sexton to "watch more hockey games." Apparently Sexton decided to watch the '70s hit Slap Shot in place of actual NHL hockey, because as reported by the Daily News, he's called up Ogie Ogilthorpe to suit up for the Panthers tonight.

Alright, so it's not actually the most feared goon in the Federal League and Syracuse's finest, Ogilthorpe, but instead it's Steve MacIntyre, who's played a grand total of 30 NHL games. The guy had 207 penalty minutes in just 27 games with AHL Hartford in the 2004-05 season, meaning he spent 12.7 percent of his Hartford career in the penalty box, and probably a lot less than that actually on the ice playing hockey.

Then there's Mike Duco, also called up today by Sexton and the Panthers, and while his resume isn't as impressive as MacIntyre's, he still has quite the rap sheet.

After last Wednesday's Philly beatdown of the Leafs, in which Dan Carcillo of all people scored the most gorgeous goal he could ever dream of and got his fair share of taunting in afterwards, it was clear that Toronto wasn't happy. Three fights came in the third period and there's no doubt that the Leafs marked down tonight's game on their calendars.

General manager Brian Burke apparently has as well. He's called up Jay Rosehill from the AHL, and while the Leafs say they brought him up for energy, we're not dumb. Everybody knows exactly why he's here. But will that turn into blood on the ice tonight?

Back to the Florida game we go. With a chance to make an on-ice statement and stand up for their teammate Booth, the Panthers did nothing that night. Florida beat up on the Flyers on the scoreboard and that didn't even lead to any cinema. Why should we expect it to be any different tonight?

Riley Cote may or not play tonight. You've got to imagine that Colton Orr, who was embarassed by Carcillo after that goal, wants to dance with Carbomb. It could happen. Besides that, I wouldn't get too excited. I have a feeling that the story tonight will be about the Flyers putting pucks past Vesa Toskala. Leaf fans feel the same way, as evidenced by this Pension Plan Puppets story titled "Make Other Plans: Toskala to Start..."

Besides, with the way Peter Laviolette has the Flyers playing smart, disciplined hockey, I think the boys will have the lowly Leafs right where they want them if they try to turn tonight's game into a boxing match. They're here to win, not to put on a show for Toronto's fans.

On the hockey side of things, Michael Leighton gets the start again tonight for the Flyers. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will replace the injured Danny Syvret on the blueline tonight despite not being completely healthy himself. There's no word on how much ice time he'll get or if he'll be partnered with Kimmo Timonen as Danny Syvret has been. As mentioned, we may see Cote, but I find it hard to believe that Laviolette wants to change anything in a lineup that's clearly been working over the last three weeks. Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

The Leafs have a top line of Phil Kessel, who is not adjusting well to playing on a terrible team with the spotlight securely focused on him, Nikolai Kulemin, and rookie Tyler Bozak. They reportedly did good things together against Carolina in their last game, which the Leafs lost, but Bozak has yet to see a top defensive pairing. He'll see that tonight in Chris Pronger and Matt Carle in what will be his third NHL game.

The Flyers should take care of business tonight, but of course this is the NHL and anything can happen, right?

After the jump, a look at the lineups, goaltenders, a few questions to answer this evening, and our in-game discussion.

Flyers Line Combinations - certainly subject to change

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

Carle - Pronger
Timonen - Tollefsen/Coburn/Bartulis
Tollefsen/Coburn - Bartulis/Tollefsen

Starting Goaltenders

Michael Leighton 18 944 9 4 47 2.99 457 410 .897 1

Vesa Toskala 21 1123 6 9 69 3.69 535 466 .871 0

Questions To Answer

  1. Do the Leafs attempt to get the Flyers off their game, and if so, are they successful in doing so?
  2. Does Vesa Toskala suck as much as Leafs fans say?
  3. How much ice time does Jay Rosehill see, and if Cote gets in how much ice time does he see?
  4. Five minutes of ice time before Tollefsen re-injures himself. Over or under?

With a win tonight a Rangers loss against the Senators at 7, and a Boston loss at San Jose at 10:30, the Flyers will move into a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Believe it. Watch on CSN Philly, listen at 610 WIP, and join us here for the conversation. LET'S GO FLYERS!