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Flyers Gameday: 1/27/15 vs. ARI

January 27, 2015, 9:36 AM ET [803 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Steve Mason appears ready to dress for tonight's game after participating in the morning skate, although Ray Emery is the probable starter. Rob Zepp will return to Allentown. The Flyers have recalled second-year pro forward Petr Straka to fill a roster spot. It is the Czech winger's first NHL callup. He has been assigned uniform number 51. Michael Raffl has been dealing with the flu.


Returning to action after the NHL's All-Star break, Craig Berube's Philadelphia Flyers (19-22-7) are home to play Dave Tippett's Arizona Coyotes (16-25-5) at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on CSN Philadelphia.

This is the second and final meeting of the season between the inter-conference teams and the lone game in Philadelphia. On Dec. 29, the Coyotes captured a 4-2 win in Glendale.

The Flyers remain at home through next week. They will host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and then have four idle nights before hosting the New York Islanders on Feb. 5.

For Arizona, this game is the start of a five-game post-All Star break road trip and resumption of an eight-game trip that started prior to the break. The team travels to Toronto on Thursday, Ottawa on Saturday afternoon, Montreal on Sunday afternoon, and Columbus next Tuesday.

Flyers outlook

Over their last 24 games prior to the All-Star break, the Flyers posted an 11-9-4 record. When scoring four or more goals during the 2014-15 season, Philly is 14-2-1. When scoring three or fewer goals in a game, Philly has a 5-20-6 record.

In their final game before the NHL All-Star break, the Flyers won an emotional and fight-filled home game against the archrival Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2 in overtime. Claude Giroux netted the game-winner on an overtime power play goal. Luke Schenn and Chris VandeVelde scored in regulation. Ray Emery had an outstanding game in goal, turning back 33 of 35 shots.

Against Pittsburgh, the Flyers' bottom-ranked penalty kill stepped up to go six-for-six against the fifth-ranked power play in the NHL. That included a five-minute kill after Zac Rinaldo incurred a boarding major for a controversial hit on Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang. Meanwhile, the Flyers' own sixth-ranked power play was 0-for-5 with a shorthanded goal allowed before Giroux scored on their sixth power play.

Exiting the All-Star break, Jakub Voracek leads the NHL Art Ross Trophy race with 56 points and tops the NHL with 39 assists. The Czech forward leads the Flyers with 17 goals, one ahead of Wayne Simmonds and Giroux.

Giroux is tied for third in the NHL with 35 assists and is tied for third in points with 51. His 24 power play points (nine power play goals, 15 assists) are tied with St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for the NHL lead.

Mark Streit is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen this season with 34 overall scoring points (seven goals, 27 assists). The veteran Swiss player is tied with Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle for 2nd among NHL defensemen with 18 power play points. However, owing to the team's collectively shoddy defensive play and a couple of opposition shorthanded goals, he is minus-11 at even strength since the Christmas break. Since Christmas, he's gone from plus-nine on the season to minus-2.

Rinaldo received an eight-game suspension from the NHL for the charging/boarding incident against Pittsburgh in the final game before the All-Star break. He will serve the first game against the Coyotes. On Monday, the Flyers recalled Ryan White from the AHL to fill the roster spot.

The Flyers entered the All-Star break with a lengthy injury list. They expect to get some players back this week.

Starting goaltender Steve Mason (right knee) got hurt on Jan. 10. He has not been ruled out for the Coyotes game but did not practice on Monday due to illness. Rob Zepp remains with the Flyers until Mason is ready to dress for a game.

Defenseman Nick Schultz (upper body) missed the final game before the All-Star break. He is probable for this game.

Defenseman Nick Grossmann (right shoulder) was injured on Jan. 8. He has been cleared to play when he feels ready but needs to get in a couple of practices first. The big Swede could return later this week.

Rookie center Scott Laughton (upper body, suspected concussion) left the Jan. 14 game. He has not progressed and remains out indefinitely.

Defenseman Braydon Coburn (left foot) is expected to miss approximately four weeks from Jan. 12. He is not close to being ready for skating.

Veteran Flyers defenseman and team leader Kimmo Timonen has missed the entire season while on blood thinners to deal with blood clots found in his lungs and right calf. A recent medical examination revealed that his lungs are now clear but some clotting remains in his calf. Timonen must also contend with the need to take medication for a congenital blood disorder he shares with his mother and brothers.

Timonen and the Flyers continue to consult with doctors in hopes of formulating a plan that will enable him to play this season before his planned retirement as an active player. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said on Monday that a decision is likely this week.

Signs point toward Timonen attempting to play so long as doctors give it the green light. He recently told the media that it's his goal to retire with his skates on, not his shoes.

Coyotes outlook

Arizona has been a passable club at home this season -- as the Flyers learned back in their December stop in Glendale -- but has struggled mightily on the road. The Coyotes bring a 7-13-2 away record into the first match of their five-game road trip after the All-Star break.

The Coyotes went 0-2-1 in three away games that immediately preceded the All-Star break. In their final game, the club sustained a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. A late-second period goal by left winger Lucas Lessio (first NHL goal in 12 career NHL games) represented the lone Arizona tally. Mike Smith was bombarded with 51 shots, stopping 45. Arizona mustered 36 shots of their own.

Playing wide-open hockey has never been the forte of Tippett's Coyotes. The club needs to play a tight-checking style, scratch out a few goals and avoid having to chase the game.

NHL All-Star Game selection Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a breakout game the last time the Coyotes played the Flyers. For the season, the talented blueliner has 12 goals and 24 points. Offensive-minded defenseman Yandle leads the Coyotes with 26 assists and is tied for the club's overall scoring lead with 30 points.

Correspondingly, the one asset Arizona does have at its disposal is a fine power play. The club enters this game ranked seventh in the NHL in power play efficiency, although the Coyotes are near the bottom of the league in overall goal-scoring.

Antoine Vermette co-leads Arizona offensively heading into this game, with 11 goals and 30 points. He had a two-goal, three-point effort when the Coyotes played the Flyers in Glendale last month.

Danish forward Mikkel Boedker paces the Coyotes with 14 goals among his 28 points. However, Boedker is out four to six weeks from Jan. 19 after undergoing surgery following a ruptured spleen. Apart from the aforementioned players, long-tenured Coyotes captain Shane Doan is the only other Arizona player who has scored double-digit goals (10 goals, 25 points).

Smith has had a miserable season thus far for the Coyotes but remains arguably the best puckhandling goalie in the league. The Flyers faced the since-traded Devan Dubnyk last month in Arizona. For the season, Smith has posted an unacceptable .887 save percentage and 3.51 goals against average in 30 starts and 31 overall appearances.

Veteran defenseman Zbynek Michalek entered the All-Star break with an upper-body injury. His status for this game is officially questionable.

Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)

Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.69 (T-18th), Coyotes 2.22 (28th)
Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 2.94 (T-23rd), Coyotes 3.33 (29th)
Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.98 (T-18th), Coyotes 0.63 (29th)
Power play efficiency: Flyers 23.0% (5th), Coyotes 21.5% (7th)
Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 74.4% (T-28th), Coyotes 76.0% (27th)
Faceoff percentage: Flyers 50.9% (13th), Coyotes 52.9% (5th)

Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)


10 Brayden Schenn - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
18 R.J. Umberger - 14 Sean Couturier - 24 Matt Read
51 Petr Straka - 25 Ryan White 17 Wayne Simmonds
76 Chris VandeVelde - 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 40 Vincent Lecavalier

55 Nick Schultz - 32 Mark Streit
15 Michael Del Zotto - 22 Luke Schenn
26 Carlo Colaiacovo - 47 Andrew MacDonald

29 Ray Emery
[35 Steve Mason]

Scratches: Scott Laughton (upper body, suspected concussion), Braydon Coburn (IR, left foot), Nicklas Grossmann (right shoulder), Zac Rinaldo (suspension), Michael Raffl (flu).


8 Tobias Rieder - 50 Antoine Vermette - 19 Shane Doan
10 Martin Erat - 11 Martin Hanzal - 9 Sam Gagner
22 Brandon McMillan - 24 Kyle Chipchura - 18 David Moss
38 Lucas Lessio - 14 Joe Vitale - 28 Lauri Korpikoski

23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson - 26 Michael Stone
3 Keith Yandle - 4 Zbynek Michalek
45 Andrew Campbell - 5 Connor Murphy

41 Mike Smith
[31 Michael Lee]

Scratches: Mikkel Boedker (spleen surgery), Zbynek Michalek (questionable, upper body), Andrew Campbell or Chris Summers (healthy), B.J. Crombeen (healthy).
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