Struggling teams meet as Flyers visit 'Canes
FLYERS (16-18-2) AT HURRICANES (9-22-6)
-- Philadelphia 3-6-1; Carolina 4-5-1
-- This is the third of four meetings between the Flyers and Hurricanes this season. Philadelphia took the first two games: a 2-0 shutout victory on opening night, Oct. 2, at Raleigh and a 6-1 win in Philadelphia on Halloween Night.
-- The Hurricanes have lost four games in a row to the Flyers, dating back to December, 2008. Carolina is also trying to end its three-game losing streak, while Philadelphia is hoping to build on Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Tampa Bay after losing four straight leading up to that victory. The Flyers are playing the second of a six-game trip that includes the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classin on Jan. 1.
-- Nothing has seemed to go right for the Flyers this season -- a change of coaches from John Stevens to Peter Laviolette earlier this month hasn’t done much to get Philadelphia moving north in the Eastern Conference standings. The Flyers are just 3-7-1 since Laviolette took over on Dec. 5.
While a convincing win in Tampa on Wednesday was certainly a step in the right direction, Philadelphia remains tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs as the second-worst team in the conference with only 34 points. The only team in the East with fewer points than those two clubs is the Flyers’ Saturday night opponent.
-- If there were ever a reason for a struggling team to feel confident, it would be seeing that Carolina is next up on the schedule. The Hurricanes have been at the bottom of the NHL standings for most of the 2009-10 season -- and with only 24 points through 37 games, it appears like they could be a permanent cellar dweller.
A strong performance Monday against the New York Rangers still resulted in a 3-1 loss and their most recent showing on Wednesday yielded a lackluster 5-1 defeat at the hands of the inconsistent Montreal Canadiens.
-- Newly acquired goalie Michael Leighton
, a former Hurricane, has been decent in two appearances for Philadelphia so far, going 1-0-0 with 46 saves and a 2.00 goals-against average. Right wing Tuomo Ruutu has four points over his last five games for Carolina.
-- Center Darroll Powe
returned to the Flyers’ lineup on Wednesday after missing 16 games with a strained shoulder, but goalie Brian Boucher
sat due to a deep cut on his right hand. Goalie Ray Emery (abdominal surgery) and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (sprained left MCL) remain on injured reserve. Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin (upper body) returned Wednesday after being sidelined since Dec. 5. Defenseman Joe Corvo (lower right leg surgery) and forwards Chad LaRose (lower body) and Erik Cole (upper body) remain on injured reserve.
-- The Flyers are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference for penalty killing at only 77.9%. The Hurricanes are 0-for-13 against Philadelphia this season on the power play.
-- "We've got to start climbing the ladder. It's Christmastime, and we dug ourselves a big hole. There's tons of hockey left. ... It's possible. The only problem is we have to grab the same rope and pull at the same time." – Hurricanes backup goalie Manny Legace after losing Wednesday to Montreal.