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Flyers-Hurricanes Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Paul Branecky

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Flyers-Hurricanes Preview
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Carolina Hurricanes

With their run of nine consecutive Southeast Division games now over, the Hurricanes will see some fresh faces when they host the Philadelphia Flyers at the RBC Center Wednesday night.

Not that the Flyers are a completely unfamiliar foe.  As far as the early portion of the season goes, they may as well be in the same division as the Canes, since these two teams will already play their allotted four games against each other by December 15.

That includes a 3-2 overtime win for Philadelphia in October, this Wednesday’s game, another game in Raleigh next Wednesday and the finale in the City of Brotherly Love in mid-December.  By comparison, Carolina and Atlanta won’t clash for the fourth time until January 4th.

”The scheduling is somewhat weird,” said Hurricanes winger Justin Williams.  “I think we’ll be done with Philadelphia before December, and I don’t even know if we’ll have played Boston yet.  It’s really different.”

For the record, they won’t play Boston until December 28.

Still, it’s a welcome little escape from the grueling Southeast schedule that had dominated most of November.  Other than the two games against the Flyers, the entire Canes schedule this month has been divisional.

“I know all the other [lineups],” said Williams of his divisional foes.  “I can probably draw them in my sleep.”

He’ll be less familiar with the Flyers lineup, and who can blame him?  After finishing dead last in the league last season, the Philadelphia roster underwent a major overhaul through free agency and trades.

Most notably, Danny Briere (apparently no longer known as Daniel), was lured away from the Buffalo Sabres with a lucrative eight-year contract.  They also swung a significant trade, acquiring Joffrey Lupul, who is now third on the team in scoring, and Jason Smith, who is now their captain, from Edmonton.

Former Hurricane Sami Kapanen and winger Simon Gagne are the only players left on the Flyers roster from when Williams was traded to Carolina in 2004.

“There’s been a lot of turnover there, and I think for the positive,” said Williams.  “Last year they revamped their roster and became what the Philadelphia Flyers are all about, which is winning and competing for Stanley Cups.  They’ve got a really good team, but at the same time, we do too.”

Gagne likely won’t play in either of the November games with the Hurricanes as he continues to struggle with post-concussion symptoms.

The Flyers new goalie, Martin Biron, played very well after being acquired at last year’s trading deadline from Buffalo and also early in this season, but has slowed down of late, posting a 3.64 goals against average and a .878 save percentage in his last five starts.

Back in October, he stopped 42 of 44 shots to beat the Canes in overtime.

“We only saw them the one time, and at that point their goaltender was playing great,” said Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette. “They certainly have the talent and depth to be a team that can win a lot of hockey games.  I think early on they were getting some strong goaltending.”

While Wednesday’s game previously seemed like a realistic target for Erik Cole’s return to the lineup from his neck injury, a setback he suffered in practice Monday morning will likely have him out longer.According to Laviolette, Cole was to be evaluated again on Tuesday.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Dec 15 '07 CAR 6 at PHI 5 - SO R. Brind'Amour
Nov 28 '07 PHI 3 at CAR 1 K. Timonen
Nov 21 '07 PHI 6 at CAR 3 D. Briere
Oct 20 '07 CAR 2 at PHI 3 - OT S. Gagne