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The last time the Blackhawks came to town was Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 in which the Flyers dropped a 4-3 overtime decision… Since then the Flyers & Hawks have met just once, Jan. 23 @ Chicago when the Flyers won by a score of 4-1… In fact, the two clubs have not met more than once in a regular-season since 2002-03.
2. THE FIRST TIME IN A WHILE
Tonight marks the first Flyers game at the Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 17 at Boston… The Flyers have an overall record of 8-6-2 at home… It is also the first Blackhawks road game since Dec. 20. Chicago has posted a 10-7-1 record away from home this year, and have won five of their last six games on the road.
3. RETURN FOR TWO, BUT NOT THREE
Tonight will mark the first time back for two former Flyers - goaltender Ray Emery and defenseman Sean O'Donnell, but not forward Dan Carcillo, who is currently serving a seven-game suspension.
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Scott Hartnell
Hartnell is currently riding a six-game point streak, recording six assists and eight points in that span… Hartnell has also posted at least a point in 12 of his last 14 games that has added up to 16 points (8G-8A).
5. Player to watch BLACKHAWKS: Jonathan Toews
The Blackhawks captain leads the team and is tied for second in the NHL in goals (22)… He also has four goals in his last six games, however in three regular season games against the Flyers, Toews has no points and is a minus-4 rating.
The last time they were in Philadelphia, the Chicago Blackhawks were raising the Stanley Cup for the first time in nearly half a century.
With the way the teams have played this season, a rematch isn't out of the question, but the Flyers and Blackhawks could use a victory Thursday night to help them in their respective division races.
Patrick Kane's goal from an unlikely angle in overtime June 9, 2010, set off a celebration that was 49 years in the making. Flyers fans at that Game 6 watched Chicago lift the cup and were left to mourn another missed opportunity in a title drought that's now at 37 years.
At times this season, Philadelphia (22-11-4) has appeared capable of ending that drought, but a 2-4-1 stretch hasn't helped its chances to repeat as Atlantic Division champs. A 3-2 loss to New York in the Winter Classic on Monday dropped the Flyers four points behind the first-place Rangers.
After barely making the playoffs last season, Chicago (24-11-4) is looking more like the championship club of two seasons ago. The Central Division leader, though, has suffered three regulation losses in the last six games after enduring one in its previous 11 contests, allowing Detroit to pull within one point.
The Blackhawks couldn't take advantage of a home matchup with struggling Edmonton on Monday, falling 4-3, and former Flyer Daniel Carcillo played a big part in the outcome. After he pushed Tom Gilbert into the boards in the second period, the Oilers capitalized with a pair of goals during the five-minute penalty.
The NHL suspended Carcillo seven games Wednesday, and he also suffered an undisclosed injury on the play.
In addition to Carcillo being out, the Blackhawks placed defenseman Steve Montador and center Marcus Kruger on injured reserve Wednesday.
"When we lose one of our key guys, we find a way to play without him," captain Jonathan Toews said. "But it's no fun when that happens."
The Flyers are also dealing with the absence of one of their key players, as they announced Tuesday that Jaromir Jagr would miss seven to 10 days with a mild groin strain. Jagr played sparingly in the Winter Classic before leaving for good in the second period.
Claude Giroux will look to make up for the loss of his team's third-leading scorer by trying to regain the NHL points lead. The center's goal in the Winter Classic gave him 46 points this season and 17 in the last 10 games (five goals, 12 assists).
Giroux had his first four-point performance - all assists - during a 4-1 win in Chicago on Jan. 23, with Hartnell scoring the last of his team's three goals in the third period.
Hartnell, who has two goals and six assists during a six-game point streak, will try to help his team continue its regular-season dominance over the Blackhawks while facing former teammate Ray Emery. The Flyers have taken 14 of 16 matchups overall and eight in a row in Philadelphia since a 4-1 loss Nov. 9, 1996.
Emery has proved a capable backup to Corey Crawford this season and was 5-1-0 with a 2.11 GAA during a string of six consecutive starts. However, he's 2-3-0 with a 3.38 GAA in six career appearances against Philadelphia.
The Flyers could turn to Ilya Bryzgalov after starting Sergei Bobrovsky in the Winter Classic. Bryzgalov is 3-2-1 with a 2.26 GAA in his last six starts against Chicago, while Bobrovsky made 31 saves in his only one versus the Blackhawks on Jan. 23.
|Jan 05 '12||CHI 4 at PHI 5||J. van Riemsdyk|
|J. van Riemsdyk||33||11||10||21||+0||22||2||1|