BLACKHAWKS (24-11-4) at FLYERS (22-11-4)
TV: CSN-CH, CSN-PH
Chicago 7-3-0; Philadelphia 5-4-1
This is the teams' only meeting this season. In their only meeting last season, Claude Giroux
set up all four Philadelphia goals in a 4-1 Flyers victory. Marian Hossa
scored Chicago's lone goal.
The Blackhawks are back in Philadelphia for the first time June 9, 2010, when they won the Stanley Cup with an overtime victory in Game 6.
With their power play slumping, coach Joel Quenneville decided to shake up his top-two units, shifting Patrick Kane
off the top group to the second unit. Tuesday he lined up with Dave Bolland
and rookie Jimmy Hayes
up front, with Nick Leddy
and Brent Seabrook
on the points.
With just one extra-man goal in their last 22 chances over the previous five games, Quenneville knew he had to do something. That slump includes an 0-for-5 Monday against Edmonton, including a four-minute third-period advantage.
"We had to change something, no matter who would be changed everybody might think it was a sideways move," Quenneville said Tuesday. "But both units can be effective."
The hope also is the move could spark Kane, who has just 2 goals in the last 20 games.
"It's never fun when you're not scoring goals, that's for sure," Kane said. "For me, I try not to worry about it too much, just try to keep having fun, playing the game you love. Hopefully the things you do will get you out of it, I guess."
Rookie Matt Read
could get the first chance to replace the injured Jaromir Jagr
on Philadelphia's top line, skating alongside Claude Giroux
and Scott Hartnell
Read has just 1 goal in his last 11 games, but is second among in the NHL among first-year players with 12 goals.
When Read saw his name alongside Giroux and Hartnell on the board before practice Wednesday, Read said, "I thought Lavi (coach Peter Laviolette) made a spelling error there."
Laviolette said he has no reservations about putting the rookie in a top-line spot against a team the caliber of the Blackhawks.
"Every time we asked him to do something or needed a void filled, he has been able to jump in and contribute," Laviolette said. "So we were looking at it in practice today. I liked it and we'll see."
Shifting Read to the top line meant wholesale changes to the Flyers' other two top lines, as Maxime Talbot
and Jakub Voracek
skated with center Danny Briere
, and a third line featured Brayden Schenn
between James van Riemsdyk
and Wayne Simmonds
. The all-rookie fourth line featuring Sean Couturier
centering Zac Rinaldo
and Harry Zolnierczyk
remained the same.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews
has goals in two straight games, moving him into a tie for second in the League with 22 goals. … In five games since missing four with a concussion, Giroux has 2 goals and 5 assists.
The Blackhawks will be without forward Marcus Kruger
(concussion) and defenseman Steve Montador
(upper body) for Thursday game. Forward Daniel Carcillo
also is out due to suspension. … The Flyers will be without Jagr, who is out for at least a week with a groin strain.
The Flyers' eight home wins are tied for the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference, while their 14 road wins are the most in the League.
It's been a while since the Hawks were in Philadelphia, but the memories of their last trip remain strong.
"I can imagine just being at the hotel, being at the rink, all those things will bring back some pretty cool memories," Toews said. "I'm excited for that. Just being back in that locker room, we’ll have some old stories we can tell. I'm sure the new guys are sick enough about hearing all that stuff. They'll have a couple more days of it, I guess."
Toews said he's even re-watched a few games from the 2010 Stanley Cup Final just as a refresher.
"I downloaded a couple of those last games on iTunes, Games 5 and 6," he said. "And one day we were watching on the plane, a bunch of guys huddled around the seat to watch it on the plane. Even watching those last two games, you know the outcome but it still makes you nervous to watch. A lot of those cool feelings come rushing back."