Fresh off key win, Flyers visit Maple Leafs
FLYERS (39-34-6) at MAPLE LEAFS (29-36-14)
Philadelphia 3-6-1; Toronto 6-2-2
This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season, with the home team winning each game. Philadelphia has won two of the first three games, most recently on March 7. Michael Leighton
stopped 27 of 28 shots and Simon Gagne and Danny Briere
scored 1:16 apart late in the second period to break a 1-1 tie and give the Flyers a 3-1 victory at the Wachovia Center.
Were the Flyers able to bring all the good feelings from Sunday's big win against the Red Wings over the border with them to Toronto? The Flyers haven't won back-to-back games since March 7-9.
Can the Maple Leafs draw enough motivation from the opportunity to ruin the Flyers' playoff hopes? The Leafs have won six of their last 10, with all six wins coming against teams in the playoffs or fighting for a spot.
Despite its precarious playoff position, coach Peter Laviolette is happy with where his team is -- two points ahead of the ninth-place Rangers with three games left in the regular season.
Laviolette believes playing win-or-go-home games late in the regular season forces players into a playoff mentality, and will give his team the momentum heading into the postseason.
"If you can continue to play this way and continue to win games," Laviolette said following Sunday's win against the Red Wings, "it's better than sitting in sixth place … and not really liking your game."
Maple Leafs --
Coach Ron Wilson will use the last few games to look at how things might go next season. One of those options is leaving intact the "Frat Pack" line of Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg and Christian Hanson. Playing together for most of the last three games, the trio has combined for 3 goals (all by Stalberg) and 6 points.
"I think we have all the different skills you need on a line, really," Stalberg told the Toronto Star. "Tyler is obviously the brains behind most things. He's a real good playmaker and a smart guy out there. He wins a lot of faceoffs and gets the puck in our hands with a lot of speed. Christian is a big guy who wins a lot of battles, gets pucks out and is pretty solid defensively. I think I can help out with my speed, find ways to get open and put pucks in the back of the net."
The Frat Pack nickname comes from the fact that all three were signed from NCAA schools within about a week of each other last season. That and they lived together last summer, although the living arrangements have changed. Stalberg and Bozak share an apartment with Hanson living a building over.
"It's worked out well, though, because those two idiots play video games all the time," Hanson told the Star. "All they do is play 'Call of Duty' and I didn't get to see the TV at all during the summer. It was a race to see who could get back first to take over the TV."
Who's Hot --
After scoring just 4 goals in his first 75 games this season, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen
has 2 goals in his last four.
Leafs leading scorer Phil Kessel has 5 goals and 7 points in his last 10 games. He's already established a new personal best with 25 assists this season, and he's 5 points away from tying his career-high 60 points from last season.
Injury Report --
Flyers center Jeff Carter
was walking around the Wachovia Center in a regular shoe, rather than a walking boot. He's due to have an MRI on his broken foot Wednesday, with the hope being he's healed enough to return for the final two games of the regular season.
Outside of the long-term injuries to defensemen Mike Van Ryn and Mike Komisarek, the Leafs are healthy.
Stat Pack --
In the first three games between the teams this season, there's been a combined 152 penalty minutes, featuring five fights and three 10-minute misconducts.
Puck Drop --
A note in Sunday's New York Post column quoted two anonymous NHL GMs blaming defenseman Chris Pronger
for some of the Flyers' problems this season, with one saying the veteran blueliner has a knack for "splitting locker rooms as well as heads."
Pronger brushed off the comment, saying people should consider the source -- much-maligned Post writer Larry Brooks.
"(Brooks) likes to stir the pot," Pronger told the Philadelphia Daily News. "He's good at it. I don't take credence to anything that comes from people like that's mouth."