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Written by mark   
Friday, 02 January 2009 15:11
NHL Headline News

Road Blues

Anaheim,Ca - Losing one of their best players didn't keep the Philadelphia Flyers from a win their last time out. It remains to be seen if his absence will become an issue on the remainder of their longest road trip this season.

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Forward Simon Gagne is likely to miss the final three stops on the Flyers' six-game swing, which continues Friday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Ducks –135 money line favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Flyers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 59% of more than 143 bets for this game have been placed on the Ducks -135.

Philadelphia (20-10-7) snapped an 0-3-1 road slide with a 3-2 win at Vancouver on Tuesday. However, the Flyers endured another setback to injury. Already without forwards Scottie Upshall (right knee sprain) and Danny Briere (left groin strain), they lost Gagne just 15 seconds in after took a hard hit from Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

While Upshall and Briere could return soon, Gagne may be sidelined for at least 10 days due to a strained shoulder, the Flyers' official Web site reported Wednesday. Philadelphia's trip ends on Tuesday in Washington.

Gagne is currently second on the team with 18 goals and 40 points, but playing without him is nothing new to the Flyers. A concussion limited him to 25 games last season, when Philadelphia advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to Pittsburgh in five games.

"That's the story of the year with our team. When guys go down other people step up," said captain Mike Richards, who leads the Flyers with 24 assists and ranks third with 39 points. "We have some important guys out right now but we also have some young players who see that as an opportunity and have been able to step in and contribute."

One such player has been Jeff Carter, who had a goal and an assist on Tuesday. He leads the league with 27 goals, and his 43 points are 10 short of the personal best he set in 82 games last season.

The Flyers are two points behind the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers, who are idle until Saturday.

Philadelphia seeks back-to-back road wins for the first time since a season-high three-game run from Nov. 15-26, but is just 4-3-1 with two ties all-time in Anaheim (19-15-4) after winning 7-4 on Nov. 15, 2006 in its last visit there.

The Flyers, however, have won four of their last five games against the Ducks, including 3-0 at home on Feb. 2 behind a hat trick from Mike Knuble.

Anaheim was blanked for the second time season - and first at home since Dec. 2, 2007 - on Wednesday after falling 2-0 to Columbus to open a four-game homestand. The team concluded December with a 5-7-1 record, having dropped four of its last five games and two in a row at the Honda Center.

"It was a flat game for us, emotion-wise," said coach Randy Carlyle, whose team had averaged 2.9 goals in its previous 10 games. "We had a lot of trouble getting any noise on the bench. We just couldn't get any emotion going for ourselves."

It was also a sluggish night for the Ducks in man-advantage situations as they faltered on all five chances Wednesday after going 6-for-20 during a recently-completed five-game road trip. Opponents have converted 23.7 percent (14-for-59) of their power-play opportunities against the Flyers over the last 12 contests.

Against Columbus, Jean-Sebastien Giguere snapped a personal four-game home winning streak. He's allowed 12 goals on 78 shots in winning two of his last three starts against Philadelphia.

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Posted: 1/2/09 12:25AM ET


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