The biggest challenge of a three-game road trip will come on Thursday night for the Philadelphia Flyers in Anaheim, C.A.
The Anaheim Ducks boast the best record (39-11-5, 83 pts) and best home record (21-2-2) in the National Hockey League. Through their first 25 games at the Honda Center, the Ducks have lost twice in regulation. Up until they lost to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 21, the Ducks had earned at least one point in 22 straight home games.
Back on Oct. 29, the Flyers had a two-goal lead on the Ducks, only to see their lead dissolve with three unanswered goals. The 3-2 loss dropped the Flyers to 3-8. Since then, the Flyers have stormed back into the thick of the playoff race.
Coming into tonight, the Ducks are 7-3-0 in their last ten games, while the Flyers are 3-5-2.
Defense will play a big factor in determining this matchup. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are a huge threat to score and are nearly identical in point totals. Both men rank in the top five in points, so the Flyers defensive unit will need to be on their toes.
Steve Mason will start for the Flyers. He is 20-13-5 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Mason will be opposed by Frederik Andersen, who is 13-2-0 with a 1.87 goals against average and a .933 save percentage.
The Flyers are making their first trip to Anaheim since the 2011-12 season. Claude Giroux scored in overtime to lift the Flyers to a 4-3 win.
Zac Rinaldo has been activated off injured reserve, which means he could suit up. He has been skating with a regular practice jersey, but there has been no official announcement of his return to the lineup. Chris VandeVelde has been sent back to the minors, so the signs do point to Rinaldo making a return. Kimmo Timonen, who suffered a lower-body injury during the win against the Detroit Red Wings, will play tonight.