The streaking Flyers play in Toronto Saturday night, but the conversation in the locker room after Friday’s practice centered around two of their star players -- Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds -- getting ready to face the Harlem Globetrotters on the hardwood.
Giroux and Simmonds will play for the World All-Stars in Sunday’s 5 p.m. game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Simmonds, who played basketball in high school, said the Globies would probably make him and his hockey teammate look “pretty stupid.”
His goal, he said with a smile, was to “get the ball, go strong to the hoop and dunk on somebody…I can dunk. I’ve got hops.”
Giroux and Simmonds play basketball before home hockey games in a long Wells Fargo Center corridor that is down the hall from their locker room.
Asked if he was worried about being injured, Giroux said he and Simmonds would only play for a few minutes.
“But I do get hurt in weird ways, so I’ll have to be careful,” said Giroux, who needed hand surgery after a freak golf injury in August.
Flyers coach Craig Berube was caught off-guard about his two forwards facing the Globetrotters.
“I don’t know anything about it,” he said.
When told the specifics, Berube said, “they better tape their ankles.”
On Saturday night, the Flyers will face host Toronto in the teams’ first meeting since the Leafs scored a 3-1 opening-night win at the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 2.
It will match two of the league’s top scorers, Giroux and Toronto’s Phil Kessel. Kessel is second in the NHL with 70 points (33 goals, 37 assists), while Giroux is tied for sixth with 64 points (23 goals, 41 assists). Giroux has six points over his last two games, and he has 46 points, including 19 goals, in his last 36 games.
Schenn returns. Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn is eager to return to Toronto, despite being the fans and media labeling him as an underachiever when he played there _ and despite knowing he will be booed every time he touches the puck at the Air Canada Centre.
“That’s the place I was drafted, played four years there, have a lot of great friends,” Schenn said. “So it’s exciting to go back. It’s hard to believe we only go there one time a year now.”
Several Flyers grew up in the Toronto area and get an extra kick playing there, including Steve Mason, Simmonds, Zac Rinaldo, Steve Downie, and Matt Read. (Backup goalie Ray Emery, who is also from Toronto, is injured and won’t make the trip. Cal Heeter will be Mason’s backup.)
Blossoming winger James van Riemsdyk, sent to Toronto for Schenn in a 2012 trade, has 26 goals and 26 assists, both personal bests. Van Riemsdyk, who excelled for Team USA in the Olympics, is minus-1 this season.
Schenn said comparing him to van Riemsdyk was like “apples and oranges” because they play different positions.
Schenn has four goals, nine points and a plus-1 rating. After struggling in the first part of the season, Schenn has improved his play in the last several weeks, and he is eighth in the NHL in hits (192) and third among defensemen, behind only Toronto’s Cody Franson (223) and Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas (209).
The Flyers have won seven of their last eight games to climb into second place in the Metropolitan Division. Toronto is coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers, a victory that ended a three-game losing streak.
Mez, postscript. The Flyers confirmed they are paying half of Andrej Meszaros' pro-rated salary; he was dealt to Boston on Wednesday, and he will earn $5.5 million this season ($4 million cap hit).
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.