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Predators vs Flyers - 2/2/2012


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Meltzer

Home ice has not been especially kind thus far to the Philadelphia Flyers (29-14-6, 11-7-4 at the Wells Fargo Center). With an abundance of home games in February and March, they will need to get on a roll. Tonight the Flyers host Barry Trotz's Nashville Predators (31-16-4, 15-9-1 away). The game starts at 7 PM EST and will be broadcast locally on CSN Philly.

The game is the second and final meeting between the teams this season; the lone one in Philadelphia. On Jan 14, the Flyers dropped a 4-2 road decision to the Predators. Philly battled in vain to play catch-up hockey. The Flyers twice trimmed two-goal deficits back to a single goal but were unable to find an equalizer before the Preds' Mike Fisher sealed the game with an empty netter. Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds tallied for Philadelphia.

All NHL teams are more dangerous when they score the game's first goal, but the Predators are among the toughest teams against whom to play from behind. This season, Nashville's .808 winning percentage (21-2-3 record) when scoring first ranks fourth in the NHL. On the flip side, Nashville is an ordinary 10-14-1 (.391 winning percentage, 12th) when they have to chase the game.

Of late, however, it has scarcely mattered whether the Preds score first or not. They were the hottest team in the NHL in January, going 11-2-0. In their first game after the All-Star break, Nashville pulled off a mini-miracle, erasing a 4-1 deficit in Minnesota in the final 11 minutes of the third period and going on to win, 5-4.

The Flyers are coming off a so-so performance in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. However, the club played a strong third period and is hoping to build from that tonight. Brayden Schenn, Jaromir Jagr and Ilya Bryzgalov were Philly's top performers in the last game.

Jagr admitted to feeling fatigued in the third period of the Jets' game and left the ice a little early after tiring at practice yesterday but said that he is otherwise OK physically. Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk remain out of the lineup with concussions. Zac Rinaldo is available to play and appears likely to be in the lineup tonight. The Flyers returned Ben Holmstrom to the Phantoms yesterday.

The Predators are relatively healthy right now. However, forward Jerred Smithson and defenseman Francis Bouillon missed the Wild game due to upper-body injuries. Both may be available tonight.

PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)

FLYERS

Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr

Read - Schenn - Simmonds

Sestito/Talbot - Couturier - Voracek

Zolnierczyk - Talbot - Rinaldo

Timonen - Coburn

Carle - Bourdon

Gustafsson - Meszaros

Bryzgalov

[bobrovsky]

PREDATORS

Wilson - Legwand - Hornqvist

Kostitsyn - Fisher - Erat

Bourque - Spaling - Tootoo

Halischuk - Smith - Yip

Suter - Weber

Josi - Klein

Ellis - Boullion

Rinne

[Lindback]

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I didn't think Bryz looked slow at all. He's not Bobrovsky-quick but he's a big guy, quickness isn't his game. But he looked very sharp, very much in the game and agressive reading the play. Which is not what he's looked like for most of the year. I'll say the same thing I said after the last game, if he plays like this the rest of the way, nobody will be complaining. Well, somebody will. But not as much.

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