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|PHI||1||1||2||(0 - 0)||4|
Earlier this season, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren looked like a genius for revamping a Flyers roster that had finished 2006-07 with a franchise-low point total.
Lately, however, Holmgren's club is starting to resemble last season's edition.
The Flyers look to snap a six-game winless streak on Thursday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After compiling just 22 wins and 56 points last season and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993-94, Philadelphia underwent significant offseason changes. Holmgren signed free-agent forward Daniel Briere to an eight-year contract and added defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell.
The moves paid off early as the Flyers opened the season with victories in six of their first seven games.
Since that hot start, the Flyers (16-14-4) are just 10-13-4, including 0-4-2 since their last win - an 8-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Dec. 11.
"We know where we're at. We're concerned," forward Derian Hatcher told the Flyers' official Web site. "But we also know if we go out and have a good week here we're right back in it."
On Saturday, Philadelphia gave up a game-tying goal with 7.2 seconds left in regulation, and eventually lost 6-5 in a shootout against Buffalo - the Flyers' second 6-5 shootout loss during their winless stretch.
"We're going to have to deal with it," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "We have to come and play hard for 60 minutes every night coming back from Christmas because we put ourselves in a hole that we have to climb out of."
Part of the Flyers' problem is their defense, which has allowed 4.0 goals per game during the skid. Philadelphia has given up 18 power-play goals in its last 15 games and ranks 20th in the league in penalty kill percentage.
"Our commitment to defense early on was what really made the difference for us," Stevens said. "Our penalty kill has given up too many goals as of late and our five-on-five play is not where we want it to be. To me, it's a real sense of urgency that makes that stuff happen.
"Our whole focus and intensity has to pick up, and our defensive play, and it will make every part of our game better around it."
Philadelphia will try to rebound against a Toronto (15-14-8) team that will likely be without starting goalie Vesa Toskala. Toskala sat out Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders because of tightness in his groin and isn't expected to return Thursday.
He will be replaced by Andrew Raycroft, who gave up three goals in the first period against New York. Raycroft settled down, though, holding the Islanders scoreless until overtime.
"I was hoping to at least get to a shootout," said Raycroft, who hadn't played since he was pulled in the first period of a loss to Phoenix on Nov. 24. "All I've done the last month and a half is shootouts. I wanted to see if some of that work was going to pay off."
Raycroft is 5-2-0 with one tie and a 2.05 goals-against average in nine career games against the Flyers.
In 22 career games versus the Maple Leafs, Philadelphia goaltender Martin Biron is 8-8-2 with two ties and a 2.70 GAA.
The Flyers are 0-5-1 in their last six meetings with Toronto, including an 0-3-1 mark last season.