Flyers-Blackhawks Preview

If the Chicago Blackhawks can continue to duplicate their most

recent efforts, they likely won’t have too many problems during

goaltender Corey Crawford’s absence.

The Blackhawks will try to keep rolling Wednesday night against

the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.

Crawford is expected to sit out the next three weeks after

suffering a lower-body injury in a 6-2 win over Florida on Sunday.

Antti Raanta is expected to serve as Chicago’s No. 1 goaltender for

the near future with the team’s original backup, Nikolai

Khabibulin, still dealing with a groin injury.

Raanta allowed just one goal until the final minute of a 6-2

victory in Dallas on Tuesday. The league-leading Blackhawks

(22-6-5) helped him by limiting the Stars to only six shots in the

first 30 minutes, but Raanta had to make 14 of his 27 saves in the

final period.

“He played great,” defenseman Michael Kostka said. “He’s going

to get a lot of opportunity to continue to establish himself.”

Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad gave Raanta another boost by

scoring two goals apiece in the second period, and Patrick Kane had

three points for the second straight game. The Blackhawks also

killed off all five of their penalties for the second game in a

row.

“Across the board contributions, it was a very good night,”

coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re busy during this stretch. It

was nice to see us play so well.”

Raanta might start the second of back-to-back games as well. If

he does, he’ll face a Flyers team that’s seeking to avoid a third

straight loss to end a six-game trek.

Philadelphia (13-14-3) earned two wins in the first three games

on that trip before getting routed 5-1 by Dallas on Saturday. The

Flyers then fell 5-4 in a shootout to Ottawa on Monday.

Kimmo Timonen scored the tying goal with 9:02 left in regulation

but all three Flyers couldn’t find the net in the tiebreaker.

With the Flyers beginning a set of back-to-back games, former

Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery might have the chance to face his

former team. Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average in

21 games for Chicago last season and teamed with Crawford to win

the Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltender(s) who allow the

fewest goals.

“Last year was definitely a memorable year and I enjoyed playing

in Chicago for two seasons, but tomorrow is just another game,”

Emery said. “I think you can’t get too caught up in past

experiences. You have to live in the moment and realize you’re

playing a good team.”

Chicago has lost its two matchups with the Flyers since beating

them in six games in the 2010 Stanley Cup finals. Scott Hartnell

scored in both of those wins, and he has eight goals and six

assists in his last nine meetings with the Blackhawks, including

the postseason.

Kane has four goals and five assists in his last six

regular-season and playoff matchups with Philadelphia. He also has

two goals and 12 points during a six-game streak overall.

Sharp, who spent his first two seasons with the Flyers, has five

goals and three assists in his past 10 against his former team,

including playoffs.