Tonight's the big reunion: Luke Schenn returns to Toronto for the first time since being traded to the Flyers and James van Riemsdyk faces the orange and black for the first time in his career. It's a pretty big evening.
Philadelphia Flyers (5-6-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (7-5-0)
7 p.m. | Air Canada Centre | Toronto, Ont., Canada
TV: CSN Philly, Sportsnet Ontario, RDS 2 | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the Toronto perspective at Pension Plan Puppets
Let's just talk about the symbolism, for a second. I'm not sure this applies to fans in Toronto -- can't really speak for them -- but at least in Philadelphia, we have to remember what James van Riemsdyk meant to the organization.
Think back to 2007. The Flyers had come off their worst season in franchise history. Bobby Clarke was no longer the general manager, Ken Hitchcock was no longer the head coach. It sucked to be a Flyers fan. We had no idea how long they were going to be awful and we never could have expected a quick turnaround facilitated by then-interim general manager Paul Holmgren.
The Flyers were robbed of the first overall pick by a stupid draft lottery system that summer, but with the No. 2 overall pick in the '07 draft, they selected Jersey boy James van Riemsdyk. After a brutal season unlike any of us had ever experienced -- unlike any other the organization had ever experienced -- JvR was the bright spot to which we could point. The consolation prize, if you will.
Maybe his time in Philadelphia didn't turn out exactly as planned, but when framing his time in town, I think it's just as important to remember his entrance to the Flyers as it is to remember his time here and his departure.
Much of the talk around tonight's game will hinge on how Reemer didn't live up to expectations in Philly. But remember exactly what he represented to this organization the day he pulled on that Flyers jersey in Columbus. Those aren't easy expectations to reach.
Onto the game: the Flyers have a tough six-game road trip staring them right in the face. They've looked really bad on the road so far this year but are coming off a ship-righting four game homestand in which they gained seven of eight points. Can't afford to take a step back on the road.
Ilya Bryzgalov is the likely starter vs. James Reimer, who Leafs fans suddenly think is holy because he beat the Canadiens the other night. He's still not any good.
Here's how the Leafs are expected to line up. Mikhail Grabovski will be in their lineup because the NHL couldn't find proof that he bit Max Pacioretty on Saturday even though he probably totally, absolutely did bite Max Pacioretty.
van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Kessel
McClement - Grabovski - Kulemin
MacArthur - Kadri - Frattin
Orr - Komorov - McLaren
Phaneuf - Kostka
Holzer - Liles
Fraser - Franson
Talk about a one line team ... yikes. Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin have had a bit of success together but other than that, all of Toronto's offense has come from that top line.
That's a physical lineup, too, so it wouldn't be shocking to see the Flyers muscle up. Could Jody Shelley see his second game of the season? Some are suggesting that could be the case tonight. We'll have to wait and see. Here's a look at the Flyers' projected lineup.
Simmonds - Giroux - Briere
Read - Couturier - Knuble
Voracek - Schenn - McGinn
Fedotenko - Talbot - Rinaldo/Shelley/Sestito
Timonen - Schenn
Coburn - Gervais
Grossmann - Foster
Questions to Answer
1. One line to worry about offensively. Can the Flyers stop that top line?
2. What does JvR do tonight?
3. What about Luke Schenn?
4. Will tonight be a physical game as nearly everybody expects it to be?
5. Can the top line get on the board offensively?
6. Will the continued chemistry between Jake Voracek and Brayden Schenn keep up?