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Flyers-Hurricanes: Game 81 Preview

12-18-2017_FlyersvsKings_2nd_credKateFrese-3

(Kate Frese/SB Nation)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It is coming down to the wire in the playoff picture. A 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday drastically changed the standings, leaving the Flyers with what is essentially a must-win situation on Thursday night.

Game 81 is also against a non-playoff team in the Carolina Hurricanes, who are looking to play spoiler. 

The Flyers will present team awards prior to the game. That will start at 7 p.m.

Team Leaders

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P Carolina Hurricanes GP G A P
Claude Giroux 80 30 67 97 Sebastian Aho 76 28 36 64
Jake Voracek 80 19 64 83 Teuvo Teravainen 80 23 39 62
Sean Couturier 80 31 41 72 Justin Williams 80 15 33 48
Shayne Gostisbehere 76 13 49 62 Jeff Skinner 80 24 24 48
Travis Konecny 79 24 23 47 Jordan Staal 77 17 27 44
 
Player to Watch
28 Claude Giroux 20 Sebastian Aho
Last 5 Games: 4 G, 3 A, 7 P, +4 Last 5 Games: 2 G, 0 A, 2 P, -1
 
The Flyers captain is three points away from his first 100-point season of his career. In what has been a tremendous season for Claude Giroux, one that will likely garner the Bobby Clarke Trophy on Thursday night, he's been leading the way as the Flyers have been pushing for a playoff spot down the stretch.
 
Sebastian Aho has been the points leader for the Hurricanes this season, but more than that has tremendous numbers in his brief career against the Flyers. In eight games against the Orange and Black, Aho has five goals and 11 points, and has been a dominant player on the power play, which is sure to challenge the Flyers shaky penalty kill.
 
Goalie Matchup
37 Brian Elliott 30 Cam Ward
21-11-7, 2.72 GAA, .908 SV% 22-14-4, 2.75 GAA, .905 SV%

The Flyers will get Brian Elliott back for the first time since Feb. 10, and could they ever use him. It's been an adventure in goal with Petr Mrazek's inconsistency, Alex Lyon's overall inexperience and Michal Neuvirth's injury woes. With Elliott back, the Flyers get the goalie that carried them through much of the season.

The Hurricanes did not have a morning skate and did not announce a starter, but it is likely to be Cam Ward in goal. Ward was in goal for the Hurricanes in the Flyers 4-2 win in Carolina on March 17, making 23 saves. In four starts since, Ward is 3-1-0 and has allowed two goals or less in the last three starts. Ward has faced the Flyers 31 times in his career, with a 12-12-6 record and a 2.67 GAA.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Injuries: Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier, Robert Hagg, Johnny Oduya

Left Wing Center Right Wing
28 Claude Giroux 14 Sean Couturier 12 Michael Raffl
54 Oskar Lindblom 19 Nolan Patrick 93 Jake Voracek
11 Travis Konecny 51 Valtteri Filppula 17 Wayne Simmonds
21 Scott Laughton 15 Jori Lehtera 24 Matt Read
Defense    
9 Ivan Provorov 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
6 Travis Sanheim 47 Andrew MacDonald  
23 Brandon Manning 3 Radko Gudas  
Goalie    
37 Brian Elliott    

Lineup Notes

The Flyers made two changes to the lineup and shuffled the lines further. After making a mid-game switch, Michael Raffl will be on the top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Travis Konecny will be on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds. Scott Laughton returns to the fourth line in place of Jordan Weal. In goal, the Flyers will have Brian Elliott back as the starter.

Hurricanes Projected Lineup

Injuries: Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Victor Rask

Left Wing Center Right Wing
23 Brock McGinn 11 Jordan Staal 14 Justin Williams
53 Jeff Skinner 28 Elias Lindholm 34 Phil Di Giuseppe
73 Valentin Zykov 20 Sebastian Aho 86 Teuvo Teravainen
42 Joakim Nordstrom 7 Derek Ryan 21 Lee Stempniak
Defense    
74 Jaccob Slavin 6 Klas Dahlbeck  
5 Noah Hanifin 57 Trevor van Riemsdyk  
4 Haydn Fleury 55 Roland McKeown  
Goalie    
30 Cam Ward    

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (17th, 23rd at home), Hurricanes (21st, T-22nd on road)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (29th, 29th at home), Hurricanes (24th, 26th on road) 
  • Recent History vs. Hurricanes
    • Feb. 6, 2018 - Flyers 2, Hurricanes 1 (F/OT) (at CAR)
    • March 1, 2018 - Hurricanes 4, Flyers 1 (at PHI)
    • March 17, 2018 - Flyers 4, Hurricanes 2 (at CAR)
  • Flyers Leaders vs. Hurricanes
    • Claude Giroux - 35 GP, 8 G, 22 A, 30 P
    • Jake Voracek - 31 GP, 8 G, 16 A, 24 P
    • Wayne Simmonds - 27 GP, 12 G, 12 A, 24 P
    • Petr Mrazek - 8 GP, 6-2-0, 2.00 GAA
    • Brian Elliott - 16 GP, 8-6-0, 2.59 GAA
  • Milestone Watch
    • Claude Giroux needs two assists to pass Bill Barber for third all-time in Flyers history.
    • Jake Voracek needs three assists to reach 400 in the NHL.
    • Valtteri Filppula needs five assists to reach 300 in the NHL.

Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

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