Flyers-Rangers: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Rangers: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers, who are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and off to the worst start in team history, are finally back in action Thursday night after a six-day break.

Coming to town are the reeling New York Rangers (2-5-0), who will play the eighth game of a nine-game road trip and are tied with the Flyers (1-7-0) for the fewest goals in the NHL this season with 11.

With puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center (CSN), here are five things you need to know:

1) Lecavalier's new line
After missing three games with a lower-body injury, it appears Vinny Lecavalier is on track to make his return to the Flyers Thursday night.

In an attempt to get the offense going, head coach Craig Berube moved Lecavalier, who has been practicing with the team since Sunday, from his customary center position to the wing on Claude Giroux's line with Michael Raffl -- not Jakub Voracek -- during practice this week.

Lecavalier has played wing before as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Berube is hoping Lecavalier will spark the Flyers' top line, especially Giroux, who has yet to score a goal this season.

In his first five games in orange and black, Lecavalier had a goal and two assists and was one of the few players consistently generating scoring chances.

The 33-year-old should also boost the Flyers' struggling power play, which has scored just three goals on 33 chances this season. Both of Lecavalier's assists in the early going have come on the man advantage.

2) Switching it up
As mentioned above, the Flyers' power-play units have not been getting the job done.

If things stay the way they've been in practice this week, the Flyers' top unit will have Giroux, Voracek and Wayne Simmonds on offense with Mark Streit and Lecavalier on the point.

That means Kimmo Timonen, who has quarterbacked the club's top unit since coming over from Nashville in 2007, has been demoted for the first time in his Flyers career (see story).

Timonen had the third-most power-play points among defensemen a year ago with 17, but has failed to register a single point through eight games this season.

“I was just looking for a different setup,” Berube said after practice Wednesday (see story). “I wanted to get the ice times [down] with Kimmo. I want more 5-on-5 and penalty-kill minutes [for him] and [to] find more ice time for Streit on the power play. That is my thinking.”

3) Depleted Rangers
This is a game the Flyers have to capitalize on. The Rangers will be without arguably one of the best netminders in the world and three of their top forwards.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is listed as day to day with what the Rangers are calling a "minor issue." He allowed four goals on just 19 shots in his last start -- a 4-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils -- and aggravated an injury that caused him to miss practice time this week.

The Flyers should be happy to see Lundqvist sidelined, as the former Vezina winner has posted a 25-12-3-3 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 42 career regular-season games against the orange and black.

Also out for New York are captain Ryan Callahan (thumb), sniper Rick Nash (head) and speedster Carl Hagelin (shoulder).

The Flyers still need to keep an eye on forward Brad Richards, who has stepped up offensively after being a healthy scratch in parts of the playoffs last season. Richards is leading the Rangers in points (seven) and has four of the team's 11 goals.

4) Meet Cam Talbot
With Lundqvist out, rookie goaltender Cam Talbot will make his first-ever NHL start Thursday night.

The Rangers signed Talbot as a free agent back in 2010, but the netminder has spent most of his time in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale -- and now Hartford Wolfpack -- over the past few seasons.

After waiving former Flyer Martin Biron last week, the Rangers brought up Talbot to serve as Lundqvist's new backup.

The 26-year-old Talbot was impressive in the few games he played in the AHL this season, posting a 4-0-1 record, 2.49 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Since Lundqvist won't dress, the Rangers are expected to recall Jason Missiaen to backup Talbot on Thursday.

5) This and that
• The Flyers went 2-3-0 against the Rangers last season, but won two out of three contests held at the Wells Fargo Center. Overall, New York has won 11 of the last 13 meetings between the two clubs.

• Voracek led the Flyers offensively against the Rangers last season, posting four goals and three assists in five games. Simmonds added three goals and three assists of his own.

• Derek Stepan had seven points (two goals, five assists) in five games against the Flyers last season.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov moved on but didn’t forget.

The 19-year-old still remembers losing his footing on the United Center ice in front of 21,263 fans, alone in his own end and costing the Flyers a goal in a blowout defeat to the Blackhawks on Oct. 18.

In just his third NHL game, Provorov had his rookie moment. He also had a minus-5 rating when the 7-4 loss was all said and done.

Well, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, he saw the Blackhawks again and made it a point to show them his best. Provorov ripped off two goals in 31 seconds of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and spearhead a 3-1 win for the Flyers (see story).

Better output than last time?

Provorov laughed, paused and then laughed again.

“A little bit,” he said. “I think so.

“I was trying to use it as a positive thing. Try to prove that that’s not me, that it’s just one bad game.”

Consider that job done.

“I didn’t play my best at that game,” Provorov said. “But I put it behind me, learned from it and this was a better result tonight.”

In 31 ticks of the clock, the Russian defenseman topped his goal total through the first 25 games (see 10 observations). Provorov uncorked a slap shot and slung a wrister for the tallies early in the middle stanza.

“I think you have to keep everything in perspective from a night like that,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said of Provorov’s first game against Chicago. “He is a guy that continues to work at his game and continues to build.”

Provorov didn’t net the hat trick, but in the same period, saved a goal on the defensive end when he quickly pounced on a puck dribbling toward the goal line off and behind goalie Steve Mason.

“I came from the left corner and I saw the puck was rolling on Mase’s shoulder,” Provorov said. “It went down, rolled to the goal line. I just got there as quick as I could and swiped it out.

“I think it was close. As soon as I saw the puck, I tried to get there as fast as I can.”

After experiencing some growing pains to start the season, Provorov has played better. Once he makes a mistake, he rarely makes it again.

“He’s just beyond his years in terms of maturity and the way he studies the game,” Hakstol said a little over two weeks ago. “He’s a young guy that I can probably ask him about a play that happened two weeks ago in a game and he would immediately have recall on that play. A very intelligent player, he’s handled the ups and the downs pretty well."

Mason isn't surprised by Provorov's development.

"When you come into the league at a young age, it’s not easy and you’ve got to get your feet under you," Mason said. "We’re starting to see that [with Provorov]."

And two goals in half a minute don’t hurt.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said. “Two great plays by our forwards. The whole team, it was a great effort, we played a great hockey game, so it was easy to play.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster. For me, it’s defense first but when you get goals and assists, it’s always nice.”

The Flyers had the players’ dads on hand for Saturday’s game. Provorov’s father, Vladimir, couldn’t make it from Russia, but you can bet he tuned in.

“He watches every game back home,” Provorov said. “Today was a little easier because it’s only 9 p.m. back home when the game started, so yeah, I think my whole family watched it.”

He watches the other games at 3, 4 a.m.?

“Yeah,” Provorov said with a smile, “then he takes my brother to practice at 6.”