CHICAGO _ The Flyers have a daunting task Wednesday night as they try to end their up-and-down, six-game road trip with a 3-2-1 record.
To do that, they would have to defeat the mighty Chicago Blackhawks. The defending Stanley Cup champs have the NHL’s best record (22-6-5), have scored six goals in each of their last two games, and have scored five goals or more in a league-high 13 games.
“This is a good test for us; these guys are tops in the league, especially at home, and they play a really fast hockey game,” defenseman Kimmo Timonen said after the morning skate at the United Center. “I’m looking forward to it, actually, to see where we match up against these guys. We’ve got to be ready.”
“We should be pumped up,” coach Craig Berube said.
Chicago is playing its second game in as many nights, having scored a 6-2 win in Dallas on Tuesday.
“It’s the end of our road trip and an important game for us to come out and get the two points tonight,” said winger Matt Read, who shares the Flyers’ lead with nine goals. “We’ve faced the adversity of a long road trip, and we’re playing a team that’s at the top of its game now.”
Chicago has arguably the league’s fastest team. Combined with its chemistry and talent, you can understand how the Blackhawks lead the NHL with 122 goals (3.6 goals per game). The Flyers are 27th in the league, averaging 2.2 goals per contest.
The Flyers (13-14-3) will try to take advantage of a weak Chicago penalty kill (74.7 percent success rate, 28th in the league).
Winger Patrick Kane leads Chicago and is second in the NHL with 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) _ twice the total of the Flyers’ top scorer, Claude Giroux (20 points).
Former Flyer Patrick Sharp (29 points), Jonathan Toews (28), Duncan Keith (27), Marian Hossa (24), Brandon Saad (23), Brent Seabrook (21) and Andrew Shaw (19) have also excelled for the explosive Blackhawks.
“We you face a team like the Blackhawks _ a team that does so many things right _ you definitely want to make sure you’re up for the challenge,” defenseman Braydon Coburn said. “They’ve had success, and they play with a lot of confidence.”
The Flyers have lost their last two road games, falling to Dallas, 5-1, and dropping a 5-4 shootout in Ottawa.
“A couple games kind of got away from us,” Read said. “We haven’t been playing our best hockey, but if we come out of this trip above .500 with a win tonight, you come out with a positive on this trip.
“It’s been a long road trip and I’m excited to get home.”
There’s no rest for the weary. On Thursday, the Flyers host Danny Briere and Montreal _ the first time the popular former Flyer has faced his ex-teammates at the Wells Fargo Center.
Breakaways. Goalie Ray Emery (3-5, 2.57 GAA, .908 save percentage) will oppose his ex-teammates, and he is expected to face rookie Antti Raanta, who is 4-0-1 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. Chicago starter Corey Crawford, who shared the duties with Emery last season, is expected to miss the next three weeks with a groin injury….Flyers winger Tye McGinn, recalled from the Phantoms earlier in the week, missed the morning skate because of an illness that is expected to keep him out of the lineup.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.