MAPLE LEAFS (28-20-6) at FLYERS (30-16-7)
TV: NHLN-US (HD); TSN; CSN-PH
Last 10: Toronto 6-3-1; Philadelphia 4-3-3
Season Series: It's the second meeting between the teams this season, but the first since Oct. 24, when the Flyers beat the Leafs 4-2 at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia makes both of its visits to Toronto in March.
Big Story: Both teams are coming off disappointing losses in which their offense let them down. Toronto got an early goal in Winnipeg but would up losing 2-1, while the Flyers fell 1-0 in a shootout to the Islanders despite controlling play all night
Maple Leafs: The Leafs got the jump on the Jets when Phil Kessel scored the game's first goal, but Winnipeg scored twice in the second period and shut down Toronto in the third, cooling off a team that had been 5-0-1 in its last seven games.
Still, the Leafs are just five points behind the Flyers, so this game could dictate whether Toronto will be in line to chase a higher seed or focus more on defending their current spot in seventh place.
"That's going to be a team we'll be chasing for the rest of the season," Leafs winger and ex-Flyer Joffrey Lupul said after Wednesday's practice. "(Thursday) is going to be a big challenge.
"They always play well at home. They have some good skill and are a strong team. We'll be up for it."
Flyers: Through 65 minutes against the Islanders, the Flyers did everything right except score. They outshot the Isles 45-18, outhit them, outchanced them, won more faceoffs and dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard, where the numbers at the end of overtime still read "0-0." The Islanders got shootout goals by Frans Nielsen and John Tavares, while the Flyers failed twice against Evgeni Nabokov and had to settle for a point in a 1-0 loss.
"We didn't score tonight," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was from the lack of trying, it didn't go in the net. It is one thing when you are not getting the opportunities and you are not getting the looks."
Who's Hot: Kessel has four goals and three assists in Toronto's last three games. Toronto goaltender James Reimer has back-to-back shutouts after blanking Pittsburgh and Ottawa last week. … Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is just 1-1-2 in his last four starts, but he's allowed just six goals in those games, and he allowed one goal or less in five of his last seven starts.
Injury Report: Toronto is healthy except for center Darryl Boyce (back). … The Flyers are still without forward James van Riemsdyk (concussion), and captain Chris Pronger will miss the rest of the season with the same ailment.
Stat Pack: Toronto has not allowed a power-play goal in any of its opponents' 24 chances in 2012. … Kessel has 30 goals in each of his three seasons with the Leafs. … Bryzgalov was 18-22 in shootouts before this season; in 2011-12, he's 1-4 and has allowed eight goals on 10 attempts.
Puck Drop: Pronger won't play again this season, but that doesn't mean he's been forgotten. The big defenseman spent 90 minutes at the Flyers' training facility.
"We certainly miss him and we'd rather have him in here but he's not," Laviolette said.
"I think it's good to see somebody that hasn't been around in a while because of injury. They come back in and it's good to see them. We're talking about teammates and friends he's coming back to see, so I think that's a positive thing."
|J. van Riemsdyk||37||11||11||22||-1||22||2||1|