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Game 56, Preview and Game Thread: Philadelphia Flyers at Minnesota Wild

#7 Philadelphia Flyers (28-24-3, 59 pts) at #12 Minnesota Wild (28-25-4, 60 pts)
Xcel Energy Center - 8:00 PM ET - St. Paul, MN
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 241
This is the open game thread.
Get the Minnesota perspective at Hockey Wilderness
Isn't this cliche a little tired? From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Mike Russo...

With the Flyers having Danny Carcillo and a bunch of guys who love to "run around", including captain Mike Richards (see David Booth and flying elbow at Eric Belanger's head in the preseason), either John Scott or Derek Boogaard (one morning skate since reaggravating his hamstring injury) will play tonight.

"One of them will be in for sure," Richards said. "Being with the Pittsburgh Penguins' organization for two years and living in Wilkes-Barre, you see a lot of the Flyers and how they play. I’ve witnessed firsthand games in Philadelphia, and it’s an element to their game. The one thing we have to do is not necessarily have to match them with it, but if they want to run around and do certain things, power play can be your toughness, too. If they have guys who are running around and they’re putting themselves in the box, we have to make them pay. That’s the easiest way to get guys to stop doing what they’re doing."

Another game, another opponent, another tough guy inserted in the lineup just to face the orange and black. We know the deal: nothing will likely come of this and the game will go on without event. Boring.

Not boring, though, is the news that both Wild goaltenders -- Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom -- are out of the lineup, meaning rookie Anton Khudobin will make his first NHL start tonight between the Minnesota pipes. He earned the win the other night against Edmonton, playing in relief of Harding who left in the middle of the game with an injury.

Khudobin is just the 10th goaltender to play a game in the history of the Wild. Must be nice. Hopefully the Flyers can actually beat a backup goalie tonight, which they usually have trouble doing. Khudobin isn't Brodeur, and the Flyers can't allow him to look like it.

Philadelphia have goalie woes of their own, as Ray Emery will sit again with soreness in his hip. Michael Leighton will start, hopefully picking up where he left off against Edmonton where he had a shutout running for 59:44.

Minnesota is a bad team in the West but they have more points than the Flyers, which says a lot about the mediocrity (or parity, depending on who you talk to) of the East. They haven't been helped by a terrible road record but they're a ridiculous 19-6-2 on home ice. Tonight won't be easy for the orange and black.

After the jump, expected lineups, goalie stats, questions to answer and our in-game open thread.

Flyers Line Combinations

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

Pronger - Carle
Timonen - Krajicek
Bartulis - Coburn

Minnesota Line Combinations

Brunette - Koivu - MiettinenNolan - Belanger - Clutterbuck
Latendresse - Brodziak - Havlat
Sheppard - Ebbett
- Earl

Zanon - Zidlicky
Hnidy - Burns
Johnsson - Schultz

Starting Goaltenders

Michael Leighton 20 1064 9 6 52 2.93 519 467 .900 1

Anton Khudobin - w/ HOU (AHL) 28 1512 10 14 61 2.42 637 576 .904 4

Questions To Answer

  1. Can the Flyers make Khudobin look like a rookie and not a Hall of Famer?
  2. Does the insertion of (insert name of goon here) make a difference in the hockey game?
  3. Are the Flyers opportunistic on the offensive end tonight?
  4. Defensively, do they play another sound road game?
  5. What terrible things does Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune say about the Flyers tonight?

Tonight's game is at 8 PM on CSN Philly and 610 WIP. Join us here for the conversation and, as always, LET'S GO FLYERS!