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Game 50, Preview and Open Thread: Eye Of The Storm, Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers

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#15 Carolina Hurricanes (15-27-7, 37 pts) at #9 Philadelphia Flyers (25-21-3, 53 pts)
Wachovia Center - 1:00 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN Philly HD, FS Carolinas
Radio: 610 WIP
This is the open game thread.
Get Carolina reaction at Canes Country

Sandwiched between two emotional games with division rivals, the Flyers will have to avoid a let down this afternoon when they host the bottom-feeding Carolina Hurricanes. It'll be the fourth and final time the teams meet, and a Philadelphia victory today means a season sweep over Rod Brind`Amour and company.

Or, should we say, Eric Staal and company? Earlier this week the Hurricanes officially started the 'reset' process, as Kevin Allen of USA Today put it, by taking the captaincy away from Brind`Amour and giving it to their franchise player, Staal. It's just part of a sad season for the former Flyer favorite, who's been a healthy scratch and a fourth-liner this year. But like has throughout his distinguished NHL career, Brindy handled the situation like a true professional.

And while Brind`Amour — or anyone, really — didn't envision it happening in the middle of a season, eight months removed from a visit to the Eastern Conference Finals, he handled the move with the class, dignity and professionalism he has exhibited for 21 years on and off the ice. Was he happy about it? I'd guess no, but Brind`Amour has never been about personal goals, accomplishments or recognition, but rather integrity, the team and, most importantly, the game of hockey.

With the Sixers playing at home on Friday, the 'Canes were forced to practice at UPenn's Class of '29 rink. From that session, we learned that Manny Legace will get his first start since December 12, relieving Cam Ward who played in 17 straight up until this point.

Many expected Peter Laviolette to throw Michael Leighton out to face off against his old team yet again today, but he will in fact go with Ray Emery yet again. What that means for tomorrow's matchup with Pittsburgh is yet to be seen (although inclinations are Emery will go tomorrow as well), but hopefully he can get a few more pucks his way today as he continues to settle in to game form after missing over a month of action.

Erik Cole is out of the lineup for Carolina, as is Tuomo Ruutu, Scott Walker, and Joe Corvo. Rough days in Raleigh, to say the least. Staal has been trying to make up for everybody else, however, notching a hat trick in his first game as captain on Thursday as the Canes beat Atlanta.

Saturday afternoon hockey! Get excited?

After the jump, expected line combinations, questions to answer, and our in-game discussion.

Flyers Line Combinations - no reported changes

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

Carle - Pronger
Coburn - Timonen
Tollefsen - Bartulis

Hurricanes Line Combinations

Staal - Whitney - Jokinen
Cullen - Kostopoulos - Samsonov
Sutter - Tlusty - LaRose
Brind`Amour - Yelle - Dwyer

No word on who pairs with who, but the defensemen are Pitkanen, Gleason, Alberts, Ward, Carson, and Wallin.

Questions To Answer

  1. How rusty is Legace after not playing in so long? Can the Flyers exploit him?
  2. The Flyers have held the Hurricanes to a 1 for 18 mark on the power play in the three games they've played this season. Despite a relatively weak PK overall, can they keep up the success against Carolina while killing penalties?
  3. Ray Emery has never lost to Carolina, posting a 4-0-0 mark in his career. He's only given up one goal in those games, as well. Can he keep up that success today?
  4. JVR has notched a point in every game he's ever played against Carolina. Okay, so it's only three games, but can he tally another today? He has a three game point streak too.
  5. Does Mike Richards score his 100th career goal today?

Today's 1 PM start will be broadcast locally on CSN Philly and 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the conversation and LET'S GO FLYERS!