Boucher to Start Tonight

Flyers' goalie Brian Boucher stops the puck in the third period against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

LOS ANGELES - Flyers coach John Stevens said at practice on Tuesday that goalie Brian Boucher would "definitely" start at least one game on the Flyers' current five-game road swing.

We just didn't know it would be tonight.

Boucher will be in goal tonight when the Flyers take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight (10:30 pm EST, Comcast SportsNet) at the Staples Center.

It is just his second start of the season. A groin strain at the end of a rocky preseason schedule set Boucher back for the regular season. His only start was a 4-1 loss against San Jose at the Wachovia Center in which all four goals, as he said himself, should not have went in.

“All four of them, they were awful goals to give up,” Boucher admitted after the game. “They were backbreakers. You can’t expect to win when the goalie gives up four goals like that.”

Stevens didn't sugarcoat anything after that loss.

“[He] just wasn’t very good,” Stevens said back on Oct. 25. “I think everybody who was at the game would agree. It’s tough to win those games when three of the goals go in like that.”

That's probably why Boucher hasn't played since then. Starter Ray Emery has reeled off eight straight games, going 6-2-0 in that stretch.

I had predicted that Boucher would get his next start against Phoenix on Saturday night, given that it is the second game of a back-to-back swing. Both Los Angeles and San Jose have prolific scorers that would love to beat up on a goalie lacking complete confidence.

The Kings do, after all, have the top scorer in the NHL in Anze Kopitar. "Kopi-Star," as I like to call him, has 14 goals and 32 points this season.

He will be without regular linemate Ryan Smyth tonight - and for the next month or so. Kings coach Terry Murray announced today that Smyth will be out for 4 weeks with a mysterious "upper body injury."

Murray said that Alexander Frolov will skate with Kopitar and former Flyer Justin Williams on a line tonight.

Here is what you can expect for Flyers lines:

Hartnell - Richards - Pyorala
Van Riemsdyk - Carter - Briere
Powe - Giroux - Laliberte
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere

Stevens has been thrilled with Oskars Bartulis, so I'd assume he will stay in the lineup tonight. That would leave Riley Cote, Danny Syvret and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen as healthy scratches.

Here is what else to watch for:

-How does David Laliberte play in the first game of his new call-up? Laliberte will play on the 3rd line. He netted 3 points in 4 games in his first stint with the big club.

-Will Randy Jones make a difference in his first game against his former club? We caught up with Randy today. Pick up Thursday's Daily News for more.

-Do the Flyers and Kings play similar styles? Terry Murray clearly knows the Flyers. He was an assistant here two seasons ago. He said today that it was "the ultimate compliment" to be compared to the Flyers. He said that he has been trying to change the culture in Los Angeles and turn them into a playoff team. A lot of that has to do with attitude, he said. Murray said it is "no coincidence" that the Kings front office is filled with connections to the Flyers:

  • General manager Dean Lombardi was a Flyers scout
  • Assistant GM Ron Hextall is in the Flyers' Hall of Fame.
  • Murray wore the Orange and Black and coached them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997.
  • Michael Handzus, Randy Jones and Justin Williams are all former Flyers that play for the Kings.

Murray said he has been trying to bring that winning attitude with him out West. So far, it is working. The Kings (13-7-2) are in second place in the Pacific division behind San Jose but are in 4th place in the Western Conference. They have not made the playoffs since they were bounced out of the first round in 2002.

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