1. BACK TO HOCKEY
The Flyers return to action in Anaheim tonight after a full five days with no games. It is their longest layoff of the 2011-12 season, other than the six days of they will have for the NHL All-Star break at the end of January.
The Flyers will be facing the Anaheim Ducks and the debut of their new head coach, Bruce Boudreau. The Flyers are 6-6-4 against Boudreau when he was in Washington, with nine of the 16 meetings decided by one goal and seven of the 16 games going past regulation play.
3. THE FIRST OF…
The Flyers kick off the first of games on back-to-back nights… The Flyers own a 3-1-0 record in the opening game of back-to-backs this year and in their only back-to-backs in which both games have been on the road, the Flyers won both contests (Nov. 13 at Florida & Nov. 14 at Carolina).
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Claude Giroux
The Flyers leading scorer has not been kept quiet for too long. Giroux went scoreless in the Flyers last game at the New York Rangers, and has only been kept scoreless in two straight games once this entire year (Nov. 9 at Tampa & Nov. 13 at Florida).
5. Player to watch DUCKS: Teemu Selanne
Selanne has been a Flyer-killer throughout an impressive and long-standing career. He currently has 16 goals and 29 points in 20 games against the Orange & Black .
Mired at the bottom of the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks made sure Bruce Boudreau wasn't unemployed for long.
In his debut with his new team, the former Jack Adams Award winner will try to help the Ducks to their first back-to-back victories in six weeks Friday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Anaheim (7-13-4) got 2011-12 off to a strong start by winning four of its first five games. However, the Ducks followed that with a 2-12-4 stretch, and not even Wednesday's 4-1 win over Montreal - ending a seven-game slide - could save coach Randy Carlyle's job.
Only Columbus has fewer points than Anaheim's 18.
Carlyle, who led the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup in 2007, was dismissed shortly after Wednesday's victory. Anaheim wasted no time in hiring Boudreau, who was fired by Washington two days prior with the Capitals also underachieving.
"At this time, we simply felt a new voice was needed," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said. "Bruce is a proven winner with a great track record, and we are optimistic we can turn this season around under his leadership."
Boudreau's tenure with the Capitals included four consecutive Southeast Division titles and the 2010 Presidents' Trophy along with 201 wins in just four years on the job. That success didn't translate to the playoffs, however, as Washington never advanced beyond the second round.
For now, the Ducks are simply hoping to get back to the postseason - something they expected with a roster including reigning NHL MVP Corey Perry, star linemates Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf and 41-year-old Teemu Selanne, the team leader with 22 points.
Despite that offensive firepower, Anaheim ranks near the bottom of the NHL with 2.21 goals per game.
"If I didn't believe that this was a team that had the possibilities, the makings of something special, I think I would have sat home and waited," said Boudreau, the 2007-08 NHL coach of the year. "But I don't think opportunities like this come around every day with the talent that we have here."
Perry has a seven-game point streak, totaling five goals and five assists in that stretch. The right wing scored once and set up two other goals against the Canadiens.
Perry has one goal and six assists in six meetings with Philadelphia, collecting four assists during Anaheim's three-game winning streak in the series.
The Flyers (13-7-3) are looking to beat the Ducks for the first time since a 5-4 shootout win in Anaheim on Jan. 2, 2009.
In the first of four straight road games, they lost 2-0 on Saturday to the New York Rangers. This trek, which continues at Phoenix on Saturday, is just the start of a 14-game stretch that has the Flyers on the road 11 times before hosting the Rangers in the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park on Jan. 2.
"If we can get out here, get adjusted to the time zone, I think the most important thing are the points, so if that helps then it makes sense," coach Peter Laviolette told the team's official website. "It's a lot of time away from home in a long month, so that's the one negative of it."
Philadelphia, 7-3-1 on the road, could use more production from Scott Hartnell, who has been held without a point five times in his last eight games.
Giroux is among the league leaders in goals (13) and points, and he has two goals and five assists in his last four road contests. The center didn't factor in the scoring and was a minus-2 in a 5-2 loss at Anaheim last season.
Each team remains without a key veteran defenseman as Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky and Philadelphia's Chris Pronger recover from injuries. Pronger still hasn't played in Anaheim since the Ducks traded him to the Flyers in 2009.