Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Philadelphia Flyers hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final matchup: The Blackhawks and Flyers were opponents in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, won in 6 games by Chicago. Patrick Kane scored in overtime of Game 6 to clinch the Cup for the Hawks.
• The Blackhawks have 9 players from the Cup-winning team still on their roster today (though Kris Versteeg has played on 3 different teams, including the Flyers during part of the 2010-11 season, since the 2010 Final before his return to Chicago via trade last season).
• The Flyers, on the other hand, have just Claude Giroux remaining from that season’s Cup Final appearance (Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen were on PHI in 2010 but were just traded at the deadline).
• Chicago climbing in March: The Hawks are 7-1-1 in March, and while still 3rd in the Central Division, this stretch has now given them a legitimate chance to earn at least home ice in the First Round, if not win the Central entirely.
• The Hawks also have 2 games in hand on both Nashville and St. Louis, as well as two more matchups with the Blues (none vs. the Predators).
• Philly going the other way in March: On March 7, the Flyers played a pivotal game in Boston. Entering the game, the Flyers trailed the Bruins by 4 points for the final playoff spot. Philly was 15 seconds away from a regulation win (and pulling to within 2 pts of the B’s), but Boston scored the tying goal in the dying seconds before netting the OT winner to widen the gap in the standings.
• Less than 3 weeks later, the Flyers are on the verge of mathematical elimination.
• Dating back to the BOS loss, PHI has won just once in its last 9 games (1-4-4 record). The Flyers trail the final playoff spot by 11 points with just 8 games left.
• The Flyers enter tonight after getting swept (0-2-2 record) on a 4-game road trip through Canada. They have now lost 9 straight on the road. Philly has also lost 9 straight road games on two separate occasions this season – the first time that has happened in franchise history.
• Following the EDM loss, Flyers players addressed the outlook for the rest of the season:
“We have to pick it up. We have pride as a group, and even though the playoffs probably aren’t in the picture, we want to finish strong.” – Ray Emery
“Guys are playing for jobs next year, and motivation shouldn’t be an issue at all.” – Brayden Schenn CHI Team/Player Notes
• Thriving without Kane: After the win vs. Carolina, Chicago has now gone 8-2-1 without its leading scorer. Kane underwent successful surgery on Feb. 25 to repair his left clavicle fracture and was expected to be out 12 weeks from that time (exactly 4 weeks ago). That timetable likely puts Kane out until at least the WC Final. At the time of the injury, Kane was tied for the league lead in points with 64 in 61 games. His 27 goals were 3 shy of his career high of 30 set in 2009-10.
• Since Kane has been out, Chicago’s offense has dipped, but the Hawks’ defense has dramatically improved:
• Kane looked good on the ice last Friday, but the timetable on his return remains unchanged:
“He was skating before practice, so he was out on the ice, (and) he was actually flying out there…He’s progressing real well and he’s going to have a tough stretch of trying to keep him away from wanting to play a game right now.” – Coach Joel Quenneville, on Kane’s progress
“Yeah, nothing’s changed.” – Quenneville, on the status of his recovery
CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Jonathan Toews had an assist vs. CAR on Monday – the 500th point of his NHL career.
• In 9 games this March, Toews has 10 points (4G-6A).
• Toews is 4 points away from tying Kane for the team lead. Toews has only led the Hawks in scoring once in his career (2010-11 w/ 76 points at age 22).
• Patrick Sharp had 1 goal and 1 assist vs. CAR. Sharp had gone 19 straight games without a goal from Jan. 30 to March 12 (2nd-longest drought of career), but since scoring twice on March 14 at SJ, he now has 3 goals (and 3 assists) in his last 5 games.
• Sharp (13 goals this season) is still well below his team-leading performance of 34 goals a season ago.
• The Hawks team defense has been stellar of late. Corey Crawford stopped 43 shots against Carolina for his 30th win of the season – the 4th 30-win season of his career (all w/ CHI).
• He is just the 3rd goalie in franchise history to post 4 seasons of at least 30 wins in a Hawks uniform, joining Hall-of-Famers Tony Esposito (8 times) and Glenn Hall (also 4 times).
• Crawford has only faced the Flyers once in his career – a 4-1 home loss back in Jan. 2011, but he has never played at Wells Fargo Center.
• Antti Raanta (now in AHL) posted a 32-save shutout in the first matchup this season on Oct. 21 (4-0 win).
• Newcomers struggling: In their 9 games with CHI, trade acquisitions Kimmo Timonen (0 pts) and Antoine Vermette (2 pts) have yet to make an impact offensively.
• The 40-year-old Timonen had spent the past 7+ seasons in Philadelphia before the Flyers traded him on Feb. 27 for a 2015 2nd-round pick and a 2016 conditional 4th-round pick.
PHILLY TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Jakub Voracek is coming off a 3-assist performance vs. EDM on Saturday. He now ranks 2nd in the NHL with his 52 assists and t-3rd in points with 73.
• One point behind Sidney Crosby and John Tavares in the scoring race, Voracek could become the first Flyer to lead the NHL in scoring by himself in the 46+ seasons of the franchise (in lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, Eric Lindros shared for the NHL lead in pts w/ Jaromir Jagr, but he did not share the Art Ross Trophy title, as Lindros lost the goals scored tiebreaker to Jagr).
• Crosby led the league in assists & points last season.
• Claude Giroux scored twice vs. EDM. Now with 21 goals on the season, Giroux has scored at least 20 goals for the second straight season, and 4th time overall in his 8 NHL seasons.
• Giroux has finished 3rd in the scoring race 2 of the last 3 seasons (2014, 2012). He is t-9th in the league this season (67 points).
• Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Giroux has the most points in the NHL (294 in 280 GP).
• Giroux (22nd overall) and Toews (3rd overall) were both 1st-round picks in the 2006 NHL Draft.
• Wayne Simmonds has picked up his play since the All-Star Break as compared to his first-half numbers.
• Simmonds is 3 goals away from his first career 30-goal season. His 14 power-play goals are 3rd in the NHL and 1 shy of the career-high he set last season.
• Steve Mason (illness) was a late scratch before EDM game, but GM Ron Hextall said he has since recovered.
• Mason last played against CGY on Thursday. He was pulled during the 2nd period after allowing 2 goals on 16 shots. Mason has just 1 win in his last 7 games.
• Ray Emery, who was reportedly not told throughout game day vs. EDM that Mason might be too sick to start, allowed 4 goals on the first 12 Oilers shots he faced.
• He finished the day allowing 5 goals on 34 shots in the overtime loss.