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Flyers start critical homestand against Wild

Voracek says next six games will define if Philadelphia makes playoffs

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

WILD (27-23-10) at FLYERS (26-22-11)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN360, FS-N, CSN-PH, NHL.TV

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek got right to the point when asked about the importance of his team's six-game homestand, which starts Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.

"This is going to define if we're going to make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs or not; this homestand," he said.

The Flyers enter Thursday five points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Of the six games, only one is against a team currently in a playoff spot; they finish against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  

"We've got to make at least 10 points out of these next six games," Voracek said.

Home ice hasn't been much of an advantage for the Flyers lately; they've won two of their past nine at Wells Fargo Center (2-3-4).

"On the road we're a little bit more consistent in our game," defenseman Mark Streit said. "The way we play [on the road], we play for 60 minutes most of the time. And I think at home sometimes we maybe get away a little bit, maybe try a little bit too much. On the road it's usually have a simple mindset. If you don't have a play it's off the wall and out. Offensively you get it in and work the forecheck. Sometimes at home you try to be too cute in front of your fans and try too much. That's something we need to get rid of."

They'll have to fix their issues without leading scorer Claude Giroux, who will miss a third straight game because of an upper-body injury.

"Obviously [Giroux] is our best player and has been for a long time," forward Wayne Simmonds said. "We're just trying to fill the void. There's not one individual that can stand up and take on all the responsibilities that he has. I think as a group, as a whole, we can definitely plug in there and have success. We've played a couple good games without him. We want him back as quick as possible but he needs time to heal."

The Wild are missing a top player as well. Forward Zach Parise is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury sustained Tuesday against the New York Islanders. Interim coach John Torchetti said Parise will be out Thursday and Friday against the Washington Capitals, with the hope he could play Sunday at home against the Florida Panthers.

"We'll see how he does with the treatment," Torchetti said. "Figured we'd sit him out these two and hopefully maybe Sunday and we'll go from there. We don't know. We'll see how he feels when we get back."

Jordan Schroeder was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League on Wednesday and will slot into Parise's top-line left wing spot along with center Mikko Koivu and right wing Charlie Coyle.

Schroeder said he recognizes how big an opportunity this is for him; during previous call-ups with the Wild and Vancouver Canucks he generally has been a bottom-six forward.

"I've never gotten this opportunity before here," Schroeder said. "I'm really looking forward to it. Just have to relax and just play my game. … I think I'm mentally prepared for this. Physically I know what I have to do for my game. I'm just going to go out and play loose."

One advantage for Schroeder during this call-up is having played most of the season under Torchetti in the AHL prior to Torchetti replacing Mike Yeo with the Wild.

"Maybe a little more comfort level with him since I've been with him more," Schroeder said. "He just told me do what you do best. Bring your game and play loose and be responsible. He wants me to make plays, create turnovers and go have some fun."

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal for the Wild. Michal Neuvirth will be in goal for the Flyers.

Here are the projected lineups:

Jordan Schroeder - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Chris Porter - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter - Jarret Stoll - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba
Mike Reilly - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk
Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Zach Parise (upper body), Jason Zucker (concussion), Jonas Brodin (foot)
Scratched: Nate Prosser, Niklas Backstrom

Sam Gagner - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton - Nick Cousins - Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White

Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere
Nick Schultz - Mark Streit
Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas

Michal Neuvirth
Steve Mason

Injured: Jordan Weal (upper body), Claude Giroux (upper body), Michael Del Zotto (wrist)
Scratched: R.J. Umberger, Evgeny Medvedev

Status report: The Wild held an optional morning skate. … Prosser could replace Folin on the third defense pair. … Torchetti said he would decide after the game whether Dubnyk or Kuemper would be in goal Friday in Washington. … Manning, Gudas and Medvedev rotated on the Flyers' third defense pair, but Medvedev stayed out for extra work, making it likely he's scratched for a second straight game.

Who's hot: Pominville has three goals and three assists in his past four games. … Laughton has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak.

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