For Flyers, a chance to gain ground

Flyers forwards Wayne Simmonds (left) and Vincent Lecavalier (right). (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)


RALEIGH, N.C. _ For the sad-sack Flyers, this should be known as Make Up Ground Week.

If they are ever going to climb back into the race in the mostly woeful Metropolitan Division, now is the time, starting with Tuesday’s game in Carolina.

The Flyers play three teams this week _ Carolina (4-7-3), which has lost five straight, New Jersey (3-7-4) and Edmonton (3-10-2) with a combined 10-24-9 record.

The Flyers are 4-9, but have been either tied, ahead by a goal, or down by a goal entering the third period in 12 of their 13 games.

The Hurricanes are struggling, "so they'll be desperate tonight," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "We have to make sure we have our game going. We need 60 minutes tonight."

Despite their awful start, the Flyers are just six points behind Washington for the third playoff spot in the Metro; the Flyers have a game in hand on the Caps.

Goalie Steve Mason will start Tuesday. Ray Emery is coming off Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Devils _ he was forced to make just 14 saves _ but he didn’t practice the last two days. The Flyers were off on Sunday, and Emery visited the White House Monday with his former teammates, the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell are still searching for their first goals of the season. Giroux has not scored in 19 straight games, including the last six contests last season.

The 13-game goal-less streak this year matches the longest of his career in one season. He also had a 13-game drought in 2009-10. Hartnell hasn't had an assist in his last 35 games.

"Embarrassing," Hartnell said.

Vinny Lecavalier will return to the lineup Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game with facial contusions.

Breakaways. The Flyers' scratches will be Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson and Jay Rosehill. Berube said Schenn needs to move the puck quicker and move his feet quicker. "Close quicker and get up on people quicker," he said.....Jeff Skinner will miss the game with an apparent hand injury. He has not played since Oct. 24. Skinner leads the Hurricanes with 10 points despite missing four games.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.