TORONTO — As expected, Brian Elliott will get the start in net tonight against the Maple Leafs. Carter Hart goes Sunday night in Boston.
“The game has changed drastically throughout the years where a No. 1 goaltender would play 70 games [out of 82], then it went down to 60 and now we’re almost looking at sharing the load because the game is so quick and high-paced,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault explained.
Elliott (3-2-1, .901 save pct.) will make his seventh start of the season and first since last Saturday’s shootout loss to Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center. Elliott stopped nine of the Leafs 11 chances in the shootout session.
Hart (5-3-1, .889) has made nine starts, including the last two.
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One key difference between that Leafs lineup last Saturday and the one Elliott will see tonight is the return of John Tavares, Toronto’s captain. Tavares led the Leafs with 47 goals last season and recently returned from a broken finger. He had a goal and an assist in Toronto’s win Thursday against Vegas.
“They are potent up the middle, tremendous amount of speed and skill,” Vigneault said. "I got to know John a little at the [World Championships]. He’s a real pro. It’s going to be a challenge.
Tavares suffered an oblique injury during training for the Worlds and had to withdraw from Team Canada, which was coached by Vigneault. He assisted on Toronto’s first goal and then scored the winner in overtime in Toronto’s 2-1 victory over Vegas on Thursday.
♦ Andy Andreoff will make his Flyers’ debut tonight. He’ll play alongside Tyler Pitlick on the fourth line with Michael Raffl at center. Andreoff signed with the Flyers in July. He’s played in 159 NHL games, most recently in 2018, all with the Kings.
♦ General manager Chuck Fletcher said Scott Laughton is still a few weeks from returning. Laughton, who skated with the club Saturday morning, had a rod inserted into a broken finger he sustained on Oct. 26.
♦ Defenseman Travis Sanheim had a goal against the Leafs last Saturday, but was a -2 in the game. In the two games since -- home wins against Carolina and Montreal -- Sanheim has been much better. He’s been paired with Phil Myers. “You just have to find ways to get over those tough stretches,” Sanheim said. “I knew I was going to bounce back. It was just a matter of when.”
♦ The Flyers are 6-1-1 at home, but just 2-4-1 on the road.
♦ The game is scheduled for 7 p.m., but pregame ceremonies honoring Canadian veterans is expected to push first face-off back about 20 minutes. NBCSP is televising.
♦ Toronto is on a three-game winning streak which started with last Saturday’s 11-round shootout win in Philadelphia. Like the Flyers, the Leafs also are in the middle of three games in four nights. They play at Chicago on Sunday.
♦ The Leafs are in a 3 for 33 funk on the power-play. They came into the day ranked 21st for the season (10 for 58, 17.2 percent) on the PP and t-24th in penalty killing (48 for 62, 77.4 pct.). The Flyers are tied for 10th on the PP (13 for 60, 21.7 pct.) and are 12th when shorthanded (36 of 43, 83.7 pct.)
♦ Toronto won both meetings against the Flyers last season at Scotiabank Arena, otherwise known as the House that Kawhi Built Before Rolling to L.A.
♦ The win over Vegas on Thursday was the 700th for Toronto’s Mike Babcock, making him the eighth NHL coach to reach that number. Alain Vigneault (656), might not get to 700 this year, but he should be next.
“You have to re-invent yourself every year, every week. The world’s changing fast. The amount of information available to you now [is staggering]. The biggest thing is you can’t get clouded with too much of it. You’ve still got to coach people. [But] it’s as much fun -- or even more fun -- now as when I started.”
-- Mike Babcock, 56, who started his coaching career in 1987 as a player-coach for an English pro team when he was 24 years old.