Flyers ride hot hand in Boucher vs. Canucks
- NHL.com Staff Writer
CANUCKS (15-12-0) at FLYERS (13-10-1)
-- Canucks 5-5-0; Flyers 4-6-0
-- This is the teams' only meeting this season. In their only matchup last season, the Flyers beat a Roberto Luongo-less Canucks at GM Place. Jeff Carter
had a goal and an assist, and rookie Jon Kalinski
's first NHL goal was the game-winner.
-- High expectations seem to be weighing both teams down. The Flyers are 1-5-0 in their last six and have slipped to ninth in the Eastern Conference, while the Canucks went just 3-2-0 on a five-game homestand, slipped to 11th in the Western Conference and opened a four-game-in-seven-night Eastern road trip in New Jersey Wednesday.
-- The Canucks will face long stretches of time on the road this season due to the Olympics taking over GM Place, so good play away from home is a must. But they're just 5-8-0 on the road following their 5-2 win in New Jersey on Wednesday, the first of a four-game road swing that continues Thursday in Philadelphia and then goes to Carolina and Nashville.
"Good teams win on the road," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told the team's Web site. "We're a good team, so our record in my mind is going to improve here drastically. We have high expectations here. You need to be able to perform on the road."
-- Philadelphia is fifth in the League in scoring and fourth on the power play, but both wells have run dry during their recent losing skid -- in their last six games they have just 12 goals and are 2-for-22 on the power play. They could get a boost when Danny Briere
returns from a three-game absence due to suspension and the flu, but he alone can't lift the offense. "At this point goals are a little bit tougher to come by, so hopefully I can help, but it's not one player that changes everything," Briere told the team's Web site. "It's a team game, we all know that, but I hope that I can give a little spark."
-- Flyers rookie forward James van Riemsdyk
was named NHL Rookie of the Month for November after totaling 4 goals and 9 points in 12 games. All 4 goals were game-winners. Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler had his second 3-point game in his last three games Wednesday, and has a point in four straight.
-- Flyers forwards Simon Gagne (hernia), Blair Betts
(shoulder) and Darroll Powe
(shoulder) continue to progress from their long-term injuries. Danny Briere
, who missed Saturday's loss in Atlanta due to the flu, should play Thursday. ... The Canucks, outside of long-term injuries to Pavol Demitra (shoulder) and Michael Grabner (ankle), ice a mostly healthy team.
-- This will be just the fourth meeting between these teams since the 2005-06 season, and the first in Philadelphia since Dec. 15, 2005. In the last meeting at the Wachovia Center -- a 5-4 Canucks victory -- only three of the eight players who scored goals in that game still are in the NHL, and none are with either team.
-- The Flyers will ride the hot hand in net, as Brian Boucher
will start Thursday -- his third start in the last four games. The team insists there's no goalie controversy, as Boucher is playing ahead of Ray Emery solely as a reward for his recent strong play -- Boucher has won two of his last three starts, and has stopped 58 of the last 61 shots he's faced.
Boucher should be ready for a confident Canucks team, who put five pucks past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur Wednesday night.