Claude Giroux and the Flyers face Phil Kessel and the Leafs in their season opener on Wednesday night.
It is nearly time to drop the puck on the 2013-14 NHL season. The Flyers return with plenty of new faces and a familiar core as well.
The Flyers had to battle through a tumultuous preseason that saw them go 1-5-1. That included a win and loss to the first opponent of the regular season: the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Flyers lost to the Leafs in the first game of the preseason, 4-3, before beating them the next night, 4-3, in a shootout for their only win of the preseason.
Last season saw the Flyers start off at 0-3, the worst record for the Flyers since. It is imperative for the Flyers to start off on the right foot.
A host of players return, like the Flyers top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek. The second line features familiar faces Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn joined by the free-agent splash of the offseason in Vincent Lecavalier.
Defensively, the Flyers added veterans Mark Streit and Hal Gill. They join Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn and Nick Grossmann. Gill is expected to be a healthy scratch for the game.
In goal, the Flyers will split duties between Ray Emery and Steve Mason. Mason gets the start in goal for tonight’s opener.
The Leafs come in off a strong campaign in 2013 that came just minutes short of a series win against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
They inked Phil Kessel to an eight-year extension on Tuesday and signed Nazem Kadri to an extension during the offseason. Kessel and Kadri led the Leafs in scoring last season with 52 and 44 points respectively.
Don’t forget the Flyers get to see a familiar face on the Toronto offense as well. James van Riemsdyk certainly had a knack for scoring against the Flyers last season.
Defensively, the Flyers have to go against Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson. Franson scored twice in the Leafs Game 7 loss to the Bruins.
The Leafs also made a splash in goal, trading for Jonathan Bernier to pair him with James Reimer. The Flyers saw plenty of Reimer last season and again this preseason, but with him starting the opener last night, it is expected that Bernier will start tonight's game.
The Leafs already opened the season on Tuesday night with a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Phaneuf and van Riemsdyk scored goals in the game, as did Tyler Bozak and Mason Raymond.
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