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Flyers aim to avoid three-game skid against Leafs

by Adam Kimelman
MAPLE LEAFS (5-1-1) at FLYERS (4-2-1)


Season series -- This is the first of four games between the teams this season. The Flyers won three of four meetings last season, including both games in Philadelphia.

Big Story -- The Leafs will try to snap a win one/lose one streak over their last four games (they won their last game), while the Flyers will look to pull out of a funk that has seen them lose two straight and three of their last four.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs -- Mikhail Grabovski wasn't about to gloat too much, but scoring the overtime goal Saturday against his former team, the Montreal Canadiens, had to feel pretty good.

Taking a pass from John-Michael Liles down low, he spun and lifted a shot over Canadiens goalie Carey Price.

Moments earlier, he drew an assist on Nikolai Kulemin's game-tying goal in the third period.

Grabovski had been booed by the Bell Centre crowd every time he touched the puck.

"I don't hear anything," Grabovski said with a grin. "I think I just hear when (Mike) Komisarek touched the puck."

Winning the game was all he was happy about.

"I had my family here in town today from Toronto and I'm happy for them because they came and saw how we won the game and I scored the winning goal," said Grabovski.

Flyers -- With so many new faces, there were bound to be communication issues, and it cost them the game Saturday against St. Louis.

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Braydon Coburn botched a transfer behind the net, allowing the Blues' Matt D'Agostini to score 1:06 after the Flyers had made it a one-goal game.

"We have to establish it because it needs to be very simple," Bryzgalov said of communicating with his defensemen. "We need to have three words and everybody has to know these words … play it, leave it or over. Not, everybody comes up with his own words, like I'll pick up, or don't touch or something like that. It needs to be a simple three words so everybody understands everybody and we're all on the same page. And then we won't have this problem in the future."

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger agreed that the communication on the ice needs to get better.

"We need to talk to him first and foremost," he said. "You have to talk on the ice let him know where you are, where you want it. We do stuff like this in practice all the time. You have to work at it. We've got to do a better job at communicating with him. He's stopping the puck for us. When he sets it up we have to go get it from him."

Who's Hot -- Leafs forward Phil Kessel has 5 points in his last three games, and entered the week leading the League with 14 points and tied for the top spot with 8 goals. … With an assist Saturday, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds had 5 points in his first seven games, the best start of his first four NHL seasons.

Injury Report -- TSN is reporting Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer likely will miss the game due to a neck injury suffered Saturday against Montreal. Forward Colby Armstrong also is out with an ankle injury. Center Tim Connolly is questionable with an upper-body injury. … The Flyers have a fully healthy team.

Stat Pack -- Jaromir Jagr's seven-game goal drought is the longest he's gone from the start of an NHL season without scoring -- his previous long had been four games, in 1991-92 and 2007-08, his most recent previous NHL season. However, it's a far cry from the future Hall of Famer's longest goal drought -- 16 games, during his rookie season of 1990-91.

Puck Drop -- In their first five games, the Flyers used mostly the same lineup and went 4-0-1. But after Tuesday's win against Ottawa, Philadelphia called up top prospect Brayden Schenn and changed some lines, but the result has been two straight losses.

However, no one in black and orange is particularly worried.

"Well, we're only seven games in," team captain Chris Pronger said after Sunday's practice. "I don't think anybody's pushing any panic buttons. We need to do things better; we knew it would be a work in progress; we have a lot of new faces and you're not going to go 82-0."

Coach Peter Laviolette said a rough patch somewhere along the line was expected.

"I was pretty confident going into the year we weren't going to be undefeated throughout the year," he said. "We have to continue to stay positive, to teach and to get to know each other, understand the system, understand each other. As we grow, I think we'll get stronger by doing that. It wasn't built in a day; great lines aren't going to be built in a day. We have 82 games to build this and get it to where we want to be. Your goal by the end of that to be a team that's ready to compete for the Cup."
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