Justin Braun will be active for tonight’s game against the visiting Kings. He’s missed the last six games with a groin injury that originally was thought to keep him out until after the All-Star break. Mark Friedman will be scratched.
The return of Braun, 32, gives the Flyers’ youthful defense a jolt of experience. Playing tonight against the last-place Kings is nice, but having him get a game in before the Flyers host Sidney Crosby and the surging Penguins on Tuesday is probably more important.
Braun, who will be playing in his 650th NHL game tonight, also wanted to get back in the lineup before the Flyers’ extended All-Star and bye-week breaks. The Flyers are idle from Jan. 22-30.
“Yeah, because then you’re looking at an extra 8-9 days of not playing," he said, “and then the rust really gets on you.”
The Kings are on a 3-8-2 slide and are 29th in goals per game a 2.53. Pittsburgh has won five of six and entered Saturday within four points of Washington for first place in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference.
Braun, who started slowly in his first season with the Flyers, was playing well when he was injured at Arizona on Jan. 4. He’ll be paired with Robert Hagg. The Flyers other defensive groups are Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen and Travis Sanheim-Phil Myers.
“I’m just going to make the simple plays: pucks in, pucks out,” Braun said. “It’s about as boring as it can get, but that’s the kind of game I want to play tonight.”
Brian Elliott will start in net for the Flyers. It’ll be just his second home game in two months as Carter Hart remains out with an abdominal strain. ... The Kings beat the Flyers in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve after erupting for four goals in the first period that night, all of Elliott who was pulled after 20 minutes. “If my memory is right, I think in the last 25 minutes of that game, we didn’t give them a chance 5-on-5," coach Alain Vigneault said. "For us, that game’s behind us.” ... Nolan Patrick (migraines) worked out with skills coach Angelo Ricci for about 45 minutes following the team’s Saturday morning skate. ... Old friend Jeff Carter is second on the Kings with 14 goals, already the most he’s had in three years. Carter, a -16 this season and -36 over the last two years, has three goals and two assists in 10 games against the Flyers. The 11th overall pick in 2003, Carter, 34, spent his first six seasons with the Flyers.