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Flyers vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Road Warriors vs. Homebodies

The Flyers will try to go over the .500 mark when they play at Chicago on Thursday in a rematch of the teams' season opener in Prague.

Chicago's Erik Gustafsson (left) and the Flyers' James van Riemsdyk battle for the puck during the NHL Global Series in Prague on Oct. 4. The Flyers won, 4-3, and the teams will have a rematch Thursday in Chicago.
Chicago's Erik Gustafsson (left) and the Flyers' James van Riemsdyk battle for the puck during the NHL Global Series in Prague on Oct. 4. The Flyers won, 4-3, and the teams will have a rematch Thursday in Chicago.Read moreONDREJ DEML / AP

CHICAGO — One team — that would be the up-and-down Flyers — always seems to be on the road, while their opponent Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks, have spent almost every game at home.

The teams will meet at the United Center at 8:30 p.m.

The Flyers are aiming for their first road win of the season. They went 18-19-4 on the road last season.

The Flyers dropped all three games on their recent Western Canada swing (0-2-1), and are 2-1 at home, and 1-0 at a neutral site, beating the Blackhawks, 4-3, in Prague in the teams’ season opener.

While the Flyers (3-3-1) have done their share of traveling — nearly 14,000 miles to play their first five games — the NHL schedule has been much kinder to the Blackhawks (2-3-2).

On Thursday they will finish a home stand in which they will have played seven straight games at the United Center since facing the Flyers in the Czech Republic. They are 2-2-2 thus far at home.

The Blackhawks will be without defenseman Connor Murphy, who will miss several weeks because of a groin injury. He was injured in Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Vegas, forcing Chicago to recall Dennis Gilbert from Rockford of the AHL.

Gilbert has played in two NHL games, including the opener against the Flyers this year.

Murphy recently had joined Duncan Keith on Chicago’s No. 1 defensive pairing.

The Blackhawks’ offense has sputtered, but their defense has kept them competitive, allowing just eight even-strength goals over their last five games.

Giroux dominant in series

Flyers captain Claude Giroux has collected 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 17 career games against the Blackhawks, while Sean Couturier has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 11 games vs. Chicago.

Giroux, who has four assists but is still looking for his first goal this season, has averaged 1.35 points per game vs. the Hawks.

Patrick Kane has been Chicago’s best player in the series, with 17 points (5-12) in the 16 games vs. the Flyers. That does not include the 2010 Stanley Cup-clinching goal.

Goalie matchup

Brian Elliott (1-1, 2.55, .925) will oppose Chicago’s Robin Lehner (1-0-2, 1.94, .943). (Carter Hart faced Corey Crawford in the game in Prague.)

In 21 career games against Chicago, most of them while he was with St. Louis, Elliott has a 9-9-1 record and a 2.27 goals-against average. Lehner has 4-6 record and a 3.01 GAA in 10 career games against the Flyers.

Coming up: East opponents

Thursday is the last of the Flyers’ six consecutive games (and seven of the first eight) against Western Conference. Their win over New Jersey was their only Eastern Conference matchup so far. After Thursday, the Flyers will play four in a row within the Metropolitan Division and a total of 13 straight against the East. They won’t see another Western Conference team until they host Calgary on Nov. 23.

Winning formula

The Flyers have scored 21 goals so far this season. Fourteen of the 21 have come in their three wins; they scored a total of seven in their four-game losing streak.


Alain Vigneault said he wants to get 6-foot-7, 230-pound Samuel Morin some playing time as soon as possible, but that he is happy with the way the other six defensemen are playing at the moment. … The Flyers are allowing the fewest number of shots per game (27.3 average) in the NHL; they are averaging 36.3 shots per game, second-most in the league. ... The Flyers are fifth in the NHL in power-play percentage (27.6) and have dropped to 23rd on the penalty kill (75 percent). Chicago is 25th on the PP (13.6 percent) and 24th on the PK (73.9 percent). ... In their victory over Chicago in Prague, Travis Konecny scored a pair of goals and Michael Raffl tallied what proved to be the winner.