The Philadelphia Flyers will play the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at the Wachovia Center for the second and final time this season, with the previous game between these two clubs still fresh on the minds of the home team.
The result of the first game at the America West Arena on October 18 was a 5-4 Flyers victory in a hard, physical and sometimes nasty game. There should be more of the same tonight as Philadelphia tries to keep its unbeaten streak at home intact (11-0-2).
“It was nasty, so why would we expect it to be a polite game [tonight]? It’s going to be a hard game and our players know that it’s going to be physical,” said Ken Hitchcock. “They play hard and we’re going to have to play the same way.”
In the first game, Coyotes forward Shane Doan hit Simon Gagne with a cross check that sidelined the Flyers winger for two games.
“We didn’t like that hit, and there were a couple more we didn’t like,” said Hitchcock.
Todd Fedoruk, out since November 11, will return to the lineup and will add the physical presence he has become known for. He is as excited as anyone to play, after his layoff due to a fractured face.
“We had a real physical one in Phoenix, and we had [Brashear] out at the time so they were running around a little bit more than not,” said Fedoruk. “I think these games are the best ones, because they are physical and I think that’s something we’ve been lacking as a group. [Tonight] is going to be perfect for us, to get a little edge back.”
The Coyotes have been playing well of late, and are unbeaten in four games, including a tie in Boston and a victory in New Jersey. They won last night in Buffalo, 3-2, after Branko Radivojevic scored with 4:03 remaining and former Flyer Brian Boucher made 34 saves in net.
Phoenix’s recent success is something that is not lost on the Flyers.
“Sometimes the standings don’t reflect how a team is playing,” said John LeClair of the 9-9-6-1 Coyotes. “You catch a team when they are playing well, and even if they are low in the standings they can beat anybody because they’re playing well. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
“They are never a team you can sleep on,” said Mark Recchi. “First of all, they have great goaltending with [Boucher and Sean Burke]. They have some young enthusiasm, and you can see that when they beat New Jersey the other night. We know that they are playing well, and we have to be ready. We want to keep this home [streak] going as long as we can.”
The Flyers remain with the best record in the NHL, at 15-3-5-1. They have a four point lead on the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division.
After tonight, Philadelphia will embark on a four-game road trip that begins tomorrow night in Boston. The team will make stops in Montreal on Monday and Columbus on Wednesday before a home and home with New Jersey beginning on Friday night at the Meadowlands and continuing next Saturday night, December 13, at the Wachovia Center
This game is going to be a fun one to watch. Fridge is back in the mix but is he going to be ready to take punches yet? Brash wasn't at the last game so he should play a big part in this game. They have a couple little punks on this team. I'm also a little pissed at Doan for taking out Gagne. I hope the boys remember the game we had with them. I'm looking for nothing short of an butt kicking!
Flyers hockey two nights in a row (especially with this weather) rocks!
I think Todd will go out and check people, but will only fight if he really has to (someone takes a nasty cheap shot). He is only rocking a half shield now, right?
Brash will get some points back with me if he goes and mixes it up today, because I think everyone can agree here it is warranted after last game with the cheap shots to zues and gagne, ferrence trying to fight roenick, and nash being annoying as usual. Looking for Prims to mix it up, and Recchi to get his first of about 3 destructions of some Euro per year.
I agree its going to be a Great game to watch. If I recall JR was playing pretty chippy too last game.. What so great about this both team have alot of the other teams old players.. They know what to do to get under eachs others skin..
I dont see a lot of Fights but Look for lots of hitting, but I hope they keep away from the cheap ones, both teams..
The Phoenix goal was one of the worst goals I've ever seen. Esche couldn't have done a worse job on it, even if he turned around got a drink from his water bottle he at least would have been covering part of the net.
Therien left in the third period with back spasms and is doubtful for the game in Boston tomorrow. Johnsson will make the trip, but is still questionable for the game. Expect Seidenberg or one of the other Phantom defensemen to be called up and make the trip.
Bottom line is we got the 2points.
These types of games got away from us in years past, when it ended in a tie.
Come April, that extra point could be a the difference in playing the 8th seed or the 5th.