Flyers-Blackhawks: 5 things you need to know

Flyers-Blackhawks: 5 things you need to know
December 11, 2013, 12:30 pm
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The Flyers (13-14-3) will wrap up their six-game road trip when they take on the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5) on Wednesday evening.

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at United Center. The game will be televised as part of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Head-to-head
Since the Blackhawks beat the Flyers in six games to win the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, these two clubs have squared off just twice. Scott Hartnell scored in both of those contests while Claude Giroux picked up six assists to help the Flyers come out on top in both meetings.

Wednesday will be the first matchup between these two teams in Chicago since Jan. 23, 2011. Jeff Carter had two goals and an assist and Giroux had four helpers to lead the Flyers to a 4-1 victory on that night. Hartnell and Nikolay Zherdev also scored for the Flyers, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 31 shots fired his way.

The Flyers are currently 2-2-1 on their trip and are looking to avoid a third straight defeat. They will face a red-hot Blackhawks team, which has won two consecutive games by a combined score of 12-4.

Chicago has won eight of its last 11 overall and enters Wednesday unbeaten in regulation against the Metropolitan Division this season (8-0-2). The Blackhawks will play the second half of a back-to-back after handing the Dallas Stars a 6-2 loss on Tuesday.

The Flyers, who own an 18-4-3 record in their last 25 games against Chicago dating back to the 1992-93 season, will return home Thursday night to battle Danny Briere and the Montreal Canadiens. They are 2-3-0 in the first game of back-to-back scenarios this season.

2. Emery’s return
Flyers goalie Ray Emery is set to make his return to Chicago for the first time since helping the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship last season.

Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 21 games with the 'Hawks last season and teamed with Corey Crawford to earn the Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltender(s) who allow the fewest goals.

“I love the city,” Emery said Tuesday (see story). “We had a good season last year. A game is a game, and you want to focus on that game. You appreciate the year and with a championship season, you have time to celebrate that during the summer, and I am kind of past that and want to do well here.”

3. Kane the pain
Shutting down Patrick Kane has been no easy task this season.  The speedy forward has collected a point in 18 of his last 19 games and has 29 points during that stretch.

The 25-year-old also ranks second in the NHL in scoring with 40 points and is tied for fourth in the league in goals with 17. He tallied three points for the second straight game in Chicago’s win over the Stars on Tuesday.

To make matters worse for the Flyers, Kane has recorded four markers and five helpers in his last six regular-season and playoff matchups against the orange and black.

4. Injuries
The Flyers placed injured center Vinny Lecavalier on injured reserve on Monday. The 33-year-old is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his lower back.

For the Blackhawks, netminders Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin are sidelined with lower-body injuries. Crawford is expected to sit out the next three weeks after he was hurt in Chicago’s 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Khabibulin has been dealing with a groin injury.

Also out for Chicago are forwards Bryan Bickell and Brad Mills. They are both on IR with lower-body injuries.

5. This and that
• Sean Couturier has led the Flyers offensively on their road trip with six points (three goals) in five games.

• Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who spent his first two seasons with the Flyers, has collected three goals and two assists in his past two games.

• The Flyers are the NHL’s most-penalized team, averaging 17.6 penalty minutes per game. Chicago is the second-least penalized team with an average of 8.5 minutes per game.

• Chicago is 17-0-3 when scoring the first goal and a perfect 12-0-0 when leading after the first period this season.

• The only four players on the Flyers’ active roster remaining from the 2010 Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks are Hartnell, Giroux, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen.