Flyers look to thrash Atlanta at home

Philadelphia Flyers- (26-22-3) vs. Atlanta Thrashers- (23-21-8)

The Story: The Flyers are coming into this game looking to continue their hot streak as of late and wondering if this is the last time they’ll see superstar Ilya Kovalchuk in an Atlanta uniform. Atlanta are most likely pondering the same thing. When will Kovalchuk be dealt and to who?

The Flyers have been linked to having interest in the sharp-shooting forward, but so have dozens of other teams around the NHL. It’s become a tough situation for Atlanta because its obvious that nobody would want to deal away their top player. In reality, Kovalchuk can’t stay there. He has to move to a bigger market and with a team that can challenge for the playoffs year after year.

In 46 games this year, Kovalchuk has 30 goals and 26 assists for 56 points. Head coach Peter Laviolette talked about the star power of Kovalchuk.

“He and [Alex] Ovechkin are up there as the most dangerous wingers in the league because of their speed their skill, and when they play the game they bring that skill,” said Laviolette. “That makes it difficult to defend off the rush. They both have a really big shot, and you know it’s obviously a challenge to play [against] top players like that.”

Only Alexander Ovechkin has scored more goals since the lockout than Kovalchuk. Furthermore, the question always relies on who’s going to matchup against the Russian gun-slinger?

Laviolette said that he is going to try and have Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger out there against him as much as humanly possible. Staying on Pronger, the veteran defensemen has 13 points (3G, 10A) in his last 11 games and is proving to be worth every cent he was given by this organization.

“Since the last fifteen games or so, he’s been rock solid for us back there,” said Laviolette. “I mean, that’s why Chris Pronger is here. He was brought here for his offense. He was brought here for his defense, and to play against the other team’s best players, which he does every night.”

“I’ve got a decent point total, but it’s a byproduct of the last 10-12 games of us scoring a lot of goals and playing well defensively,” added Pronger. “[That] allows us to get ahead in games and get power play goals, empty-net goals, 2-on-1’s, [and] quality 3-on-2’s, when teams are forced to kind of press and take chances.”

The Thrashers haven’t been too dismal as of late, going 5-3-2 in their last ten and sit at 11th in the East with 54 points. While the Flyers have been noticeably hot going 7-3 in their last 10 games and are in sixth place with 55 points. Five places are separated by one point.

Who’s red hot?

Goalie Ray Emery is 3-2 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .916 save percentage since returning from December abdominal surgery. He has surrendered three goals in his past four games. Thrashers center Rich Peverley has five points in six games. Expect Emery to get the start tonight. Jeff Carter has six goals in the last five games.

These two will faceoff tonight at 7pm from the Wachovia Center.

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