Better With Popcorn

JvR Returns to Philadelphia as the Flyers Host the Maple Leafs

The Matchup

Philadelphia Flyers (9-10-1) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-8-0)
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
7:00 p.m. on CSN and 97.5 The Fanatic

Setting the Stage

This is the second of three meetings between the Flyers and the Leafs. Toronto won the first match up back on February 11, winning 5-2. After Wayne Simmonds netted the first goal, Toronto scored the next five times to seal their first match up.

The Flyers coming in after a nice come back win against the Jets. Brayden Schenn had a pair of goals and Simmonds scored the game-winner, highlighting a three-goal third period. It was the first time all season they won despite trailing after two periods (1-10-0). 

The Maple Leafs are coming in having lost two of their last three. On Saturday, they dropped  3-2 to the Ottawa Senators. 

Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) is still out and no timetable has been set for his return though it is likely soon. For the Maple Leafs, goalie James Riemer will not be ready to return tonight. Defenseman Matt Frattin is still about a week away from a return and former Flyers Joffrey Lupul will also be out.

What to Expect

James van Riemsdyk will make his return to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded this off season for Luke Schenn. It's hard to figure out what type of reception he will receive in Philadelphia upon his return. They booed Matt Carle (Tampa Bay) earlier this year.

Van Riemsdyk is off to a great start this season. He is tied for the team lead with 15 points, and his 11 goals not only lead the Maple Leafs but have him sitting tied for 6th in the NHL and only two goals behind leaders Jonathan Tavares of the Islanders and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning.

Despite having only three goals, Phil Kessell is tied with van Riemsdyk with 15 points, leading the team with 12 assists. Nazim Kadri also has 15 points, 10 of which are assists.

Jakub Voracek has been on a hot streak for the Flyers, having registered a point in five straight games (4 goals, 8 assists in those five games). His 22 (7 goals, 15 assists) points has him tied for 9th in the NHL as well. His 11 points this past week earned him the 1st Star of the Week around the NHL.

Voracek, Simmonds and the injured Matt Read all lead the Flyers with seven goals.

The Masked Men

Ilya Bryzgalov will likely make his league leading 19th start tonight. Bryzgalov rebounded after a terrible effort against Florida on Thursday with a good game against the Jets. He tightened up to stop 31 shots for the win. His 2.77 GAA is a bit high right now while his .902 save percentage are a bit low, but he's been looking great in net despite having to deal with defensive mental lapses every game.

Ben Scrivens is the confirmed starter for the Maple Leafs. Scrivens has been playing really well in place of the injured James Riemer, who was hurt against the Flyers. He's won three of his last five starts, and has a 5-5 record and a cool 2.19 GAA and .929 save percentage.

Keys to the Game

1. JvR. The Flyers have to neutralize van Riemsdyk and the top line that he's on. The trio of JvR, Kadri and Kessel have 45 points combined. Van Riemsdyk has also been more physical, getting down low and using his body to get loose rebounds. Nick Grossmann and Braydon Coburn are going to have to be physical with their former teammate this game.

2. Bryz. The russian netminder will need to build off a great win on Wednesday if he wants to shake the bit of frustration he has run into the past week. It also would be a great idea if he kept his head clear and his confidence up because it would save lives from his tomahawk stick trick.

3. Talbot. Though Max Talbot isn't a goal-scorer, he has yet to find the net through the first 20 games this season. He put up 19 goals last year, a career high. He isn't pressured to score goals, but a lack of scoring, especially for a player who logs over 15 minutes of ice time per game, can get into a players head offensively.

Quotable

"I don’t know if it is getting back to 500. You have to be so many games over 500 in order to make the playoffs and get a chance to compete for the Cup. So we need to get there at some point and it’s good to be home here with some games and get some rest, like we do today and tomorrow and use that to our advantage."

- Head coach Peter Laviolette on getting back to .500