UPDATE (3:35): The game has been postponed. Details here. Below, find a preview for a game that won't happen.
Tonight, the Flyers will brave the storm and face off against the Carolina Hurricanes in a bid to gain some ground in the surprisingly competitive Metropolitan division.
This weekend was pretty typical for the Flyers. They won on Saturday in Philadelphia despite entering the third period with a deficit (a trend that is a little more than concerning), and lost in the shootout yesterday afternoon, which is, well, expected.
Even though they picked up three out of a four possible points in the home-and-home against the Isles, the Flyers really need to win tonight. The Metropolitan is a total freaking logjam right now, with pretty much every team within reach of a playoff spot. Dropping a few games now could literally mean the difference between playing in the rink or the golf course come April.
Philadelphia Flyers (25-19-6, 56 pts) at Carolina Hurricanes (20-19-9, 49 pts)
7:00 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN-PH, FS-CR | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Carolina perspective at Canes Country
We haven't seen the Hurricanes in a while, so here's the quick rundown. They're not so hot at putting pucks in the net (24th in goals per game), and their special teams are in the bottom half of the league (25th in power play conversion, and 25th in penalty kill). Those stats are a tad deceptive because for the past few weeks Carolina has been steadily improving its possession game while the Flyers, well, I don't want to talk about it.
Couple that with the fact that the last two times these teams met the Hurricanes emerged victorious, and you've got a stew going.
As for individual players, recent Olympic snub Eric Staal is currently their leading scorer. Jeff Skinner is also pretty damn good albeit limited due to injury. Seriously, it feels like every time I listen to NHL radio, they are talking about Skinner scoring a hat trick or something, so the Flyers should keep an eye on him. Alexander Semin, while not putting up huge points, is an absolute possession machine even though he's facing tough competition (sound like anyone on the Flyers?).
The goalie situation in Carolina is a bit hectic as of late. Their number one guy Cam Ward skated on Sunday for the first time since a lower body injury took him out of the game on New Years Eve. Ward's been historically a solid goaltender for the Canes, but in his limited appearances this year he's been not so hot, posting a sub .900 save percentage. Justin Peters and Anton Khudobin have adjusted well to the additional starts, with each putting up solid numbers.
No word on which of the three will get the start tonight as of now, but my money is on Khudobin.
Steve Mason will probably get the start for the Flyers, considering Ray Emery got the nod yesterday afternoon. I don't want to play into narratives about contracts and such, but you have to imagine Mason feels like he has something to prove after getting pulled the same day he signed a hefty extension.
Jake Voracek is getting his finger reevaluated today before the game, so it's possible that he'll be back in the lineup. The team kind of depends on him, so a prolonged absence would be awful. UPDATE (2:33 p.m.): Looks like Voracek will be a game time decision.
Game starts at 7 (weather permitting). Carolina sucks. Go Flyers.