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Flyers vs. Blackhawks preview: A tough end to a tough road trip

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Chicago's the best team in hockey, and the Flyers end their 13-day road trip against the Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Jonathan Daniel

Welcome Allison J., one of three new writers we'll be bringing on to BSH this week. More on the others later. For now, enjoy this preview of tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Is it possible to be exhausted by a road trip that I'm not even on?

The Flyers are wrapping up this 13-day endeavor by looking to steal points that will set them up for seven out of a possible twelve. It's going to be tough, though, on the road against the best team in the NHL and the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks.

I'm never happy when I have to see Patrick Kane's smug grin on my television, so let's pray he has no reason to smile at any point this evening.

Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-3, 29 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5, 49 pts)
8 p.m. | United Center | Chicago, Illinois, USA
Nat'l TV: NBCSN, TSN 2 | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the Chicago perspective at Second City Hockey

Following a shootout loss to the Senators, the Flyers will be looking to bounce back and finish out the trip with a big win. A win will mean even more of a pile-up in the Metropolitan Division, as the Flyers have a chance to move up to fourth place with a victory. A loss will keep them down in sixth. It's certainly not fun to be behind teams who have won fewer games than you, but have been picking up overtime loser points like candy -- looking at you, Carolina and New Jersey.

The Blackhawks will be without goaltender Corey Crawford, who suffered a lower-body injury against the Florida Panthers on December 8. Head coach Joel Quenneville originally underestimated the severity of the injury, but Crawford is expected to be out for at least three weeks. With backup Nikolai Khabibulin injured as well, it's obviously a pretty significant loss. Rookie Antti Raanta has the reins in goal for Chicago.

Even with the absence of Crawford, the Blackhawks played a stellar game against Dallas last night. They notched a 6-2 win against the shell-shocked Stars, looking amazingly sharp as they did so. You'll be happy to remember that this is the same Dallas team that handed the Flyers a 5-1 loss only a few days ago.

Unlike the Flyers' game in Dallas, though, there was a nice offensive spark in Ottawa on Monday. Michael Raffl scored his first NHL goal, Wayne Simmonds pulled in a pair of assists, and Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn chipped in from the blue line. If they're able to clean up, keep pace, and pepper rookie Antti Raanta with shots, sneaking out of United Center with two points might not be impossible.

Ray Emery goes tonight, coming home to the city that gave him a chance following his scary hip injury a few years back; the city where he won a Cup; the city where he's unbeaten in regulation. Heartwarming stuff, isn't it?

Here's hoping the boys can close this trip out on a happy note. Fourth place or bust. Go Flyers.