Carolina brings seven-game skid into Philadelphia
Saturday, 10.31.2009 / 1:00 PM
HURRICANES (2-6-3) at FLYERS (5-4-1)
Last 10 --
Carolina 2-5-3; Philadelphia 5-4-1
Season series --
The Flyers earned a 2-0 victory at Carolina in the first of four meetings this season on Oct. 2. The Hurricanes are 4-1-3 in their last eight games at Wachovia Center, with the lone regulation loss since the start of the 2005-06 season coming on March 28, 2007 (5-1). The Flyers, meanwhile, have earned points in each of the last six meetings (4-0-2), including three straight wins.
Big Story --
Both teams are struggling -- the Flyers are coming off consecutive losses to San Jose and Washington and the 'Canes have lost seven straight. As you might expect, both coaches are disappointed and put their teams through a rigorous practice session on Thursday.
"You have to do whatever is in your power to win games," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "We haven't been doing that enough lately, and that's why we are here today to get extra work in and not be comfortable with losing games. Let's get back to work here … and we'll take days off when we start winning hockey games."
With just seven points in the first 11 games, Carolina's start to 2009-10 is its worst since 1997-98 -- the club's first season in North Carolina. The Hurricanes had 14 points through their first 11 games last season. Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice has been mixing and matching his lines constantly in recent weeks in an attempt to right the ship.
"You get a lot more confident when you work hard," Maurice said. "It's funny how your confidence goes when your feet don't move and you're not hitting anybody. The simple grinding things we're just not willing to do, and it starts with our best guys – backchecking, hitting and not getting beat off walls. Doing it once doesn't make you a good guy, it's got to be every shift and we're just not getting it."
The Flyers have struggled with their five-on-five play recently. In a 4-2 loss to the Capitals on Tuesday, they threw a season-high 43 shots on goalie Jose Theodore but could only manage a pair of power-play goals from Scott Hartnell
and Braydon Coburn
. The fact last year's leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter, has gone six games without a goal -- his longest drought in two seasons -- hasn't helped matters. In 2008-09, the Flyers were 25-4-6 when Carter scored a goal.
"If you look back on last year, we missed home ice by one point," Stevens said. "That one point last year would have given us home-ice advantage, and it could have been a difference. Right now, we have to start putting points on the board and start climbing in the standings and make it as easy as possible on ourselves as we move through the year."
Who's Hot --
Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger
leads the League in average ice time per game at 28:12 while Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo ranks second at 27:02.
Injury Report --
Philadelphia wing Simon Gagne (hernia) has been placed on the long-term injured list so he'll miss at least 10 games. Forward Danny Briere
left practice early Friday because of what Flyers coach John Stevens called "a lower-body injury." For the Hurricanes, forward Erik Cole (leg) is out and defenseman Tim Gleason
(upper body) is considered day-to-day.
Stat Pack --
Both teams have looked sharp on the penalty kill this season. Philadelphia owns the fifth-best penalty-killing unit in the league at 84.4 percent, but has yet to record a shorthanded goal this season after leading the League with 16 in 2008-09. Carolina is 10th in the League at 81.4 percent. The Hurricanes have killed off 39 of their last 43 shorthanded situations and have also record one goal while working the disadvantage.
Puck Drop --
The Hurricanes and Flyers are two desperate hockey teams right now so one can anticipate a wide-open, physical confrontation highlighted by plenty of offensive opportunities.
--Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com