As I’m sure you all know by now, yesterday’s game was cancelled due to the snow, which was probably the best move. It was nice to see the NHL value safety over profits (for once), and hey, the game only got delayed by 23 hours, so quit whining.
What follows is largely the same preview we ran yesterday, with relevant bits updated.
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 Monday 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)
6:00 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN-PH, FS-CR | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
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 Year’s 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 (presumably) start for the Flyers. 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.
We’re still not entirely sure if Voracek will be in tonight’s game, as right now he’ll be a game time decision. The team kind of depends on him, so any absence would be awful. UPDATE (3:40): Looks like Voracek will play tonight. Side note: yay!
Game starts at 6. Carolina sucks. Go Flyers.