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Predators' Laviolette back in Philadelphia, faces Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette said he enjoyed the five seasons he spent coaching the Philadelphia Flyers, a tenure that included a trip to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

But Laviolette also knows from experience how vocal Flyers fans can be toward the opposition. Though his tenure was mostly successful, he said he's ready for just about anything when he returns to Wells Fargo Center for the first time since being fired after three games last season.

"You never know what to expect when you come back," Laviolette told the Predators website Friday. "Certainly for me, the fans here were always really supportive of me and the teams we always had here. The building was great. But you never know what the reaction is going to be."

Laviolette has done just fine since leaving Philadelphia. After spending the rest of the 2013-14 season watching hockey and working in television, he was hired by the Predators in May 2014. Entering Saturday the Predators have 84 points, four more than any team in the NHL.

The Predators will be looking to get back to winning games after their six-game win streak ended Thursday with a 5-2 loss at the New York Islanders. Laviolette's in-depth knowledge of most of the Flyers' roster will help some, but Laviolette said it doesn't give him that much of an advantage.

"[It helps] a little bit," Laviolette said. "I know the players better but systems change from year to year. But certainly from a personnel standpoint you know them a lot better than other teams you might not play as much."

Laviolette also will have two new players of his own, with defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli set to make their Predators debut. Acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 15, they finally joined the team at practice in Philadelphia on Friday after dealing with immigration and weather delays.

Franson was paired with Mattias Ekholm; Santorielli was at right wing on a line with center Calle Jarnkrok and left wing Matt Cullen.

The Flyers also could have some changes to their lineup based on practice Friday. Right wings Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds switched places, with Simmonds skating on a line with Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl, and Voracek going with Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

It's the first time all season Giroux and Voracek have been broken up, but with them combining for two goals since the All-Star break, each by Voracek and one an empty-netter, coach Craig Berube said he wanted to take a different look at things.

"I think it will loosen one of them up against some checking, to be honest with you," Berube said Friday, according to the Courier-Post. "You've got real good [defense] these next two games [Saturday against the Predators, Sunday against the Washington Capitals] that they've got to play against, so I think it will loosen up one of them.

"Plus they're a little cold right now."

Here are the projected lineups:


Colin Wilson - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal

Filip Forsberg - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith

Matt Cullen - Calle Jarnkrok - Mike Santorelli

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Gabriel Bourque

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Cody Franson

Victor Bartley - Seth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Taylor Beck, Anthony Bitetto

Injured: Ryan Ellis (lower body), Anton Volchenkov (lower body)


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Ryan White - Brayden Schenn - R.J. Umberger

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Zac Rinaldo

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossmann - Andrew MacDonald

Rob Zepp

Ray Emery

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Luke Schenn, Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Steve Mason (knee)

Status report: Rinaldo will play for the first time since Jan. 20 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He served an eight-game suspension for an illegal check against the Penguins' Kris Letang and was a healthy scratch the past two games. He replaces Lecavalier, who has gone 19 games without a goal. ... MacDonald returns after missing four games, three as a healthy scratch. ... Ellis practiced Friday but won't play Saturday; it will be the 19th straight game he's missed. ... Volchenkov skated for a short time but also won't play.

Who's hot: Neal has four goals in his past five games. ... Simmonds has four goals and four assists during his six-game point streak, which ties the longest of his career.


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