The Philadelphia Flyers skate into Raleigh, North Carolina tonight for a conference showdown. The Flyers will look to stumble the Hurricane's dangerous young scoring attack. The Hurricane's come in third in their division, looking to gain some ground on the high-flying Capitals.
The 'Cane's are incredibly dangerous 5 on 5, scoring 32 of their teams 43 total goals this season at even strength. They'll look to bounce back from the last meeting between these two teams where the Flyers skated away with a 3-2 victory thanks to a pair of goals by Scott Hartnell.
The young guns of the 'Cane's will be leading the way offensively. 18-year-old Jeff Skinner is tied with captain Eric Staal for the team lead in points with 15. Skinner, a first round pick in this past draft, is a talented kid with a great skill set and offensive vision. I'll definitely look to him to have an impact tonight.
On the other side of the puck, the Flyers are also led in points by some youth. Claude Giroux has started this season on a tear much like he ended the last one. 14 points in 15 games for Giroux. Also on the offensive attack for the Flyers will be Danny Briere. Looking to rebound from a questionable suspension call, Briere has not scored since his return after a very hot start. Look for Briere to chip in on the offense as he does so often.
In between the pipes for the Flyers will most likely be Sergei Bobrovsky. This rookie Russian phenom has taken the NHL by storm so far and looks to keep up his pace with a win against a conference foe. Last game Carolina gave the start to Justin Peters who, despite playing very well, came back with a loss. I would expect the 'Canes to go with Cam Ward in this one. The former Conn Smythe winner may be just what Carolina needs to go two games above .500.
Neither of these two teams have been very impressive on special teams. The Flyers are at just 17.9% on the power play, a narrow edge over the 15.1% of the Hurricanes. This game will come down to the penalty kills. Both teams have struggled on the power play so whoever can limit the other teams chances when up a man will be successful.
My prediction? Danny Briere has a very good history against Carolina, so I'm picking Philadelphia with a 5-3 win. Briere getting first star honors for the night.