Gudas, Neuvirth in; Flyers try to end long St. Louis drought
Goalie Michal Neuvirth will replace the slumping Steve Mason, and defenseman Radko Gudas will return to the lineup when the Flyers play in St. Louis on Thursday night.
ST. LOUIS - Goalie Michal Neuvirth will replace the slumping Steve Mason, and defenseman Radko Gudas will return to the lineup when the Flyers play in St. Louis on Thursday night.
Gudas, suspended the previous three games because of an illegal hit, will re-join his defensive partner, Michael Del Zotto. Andrew MacDonald will be a healthy scratch.
The 6-foot, 204-pound Gudas is among the NHL leaders in hits, and he gives the Flyers a physical presence on the back end.
"Gudie was playing well when he went out, and he's coming back in," coach Dave Hakstol said after the Flyers' morning skate in St. Louis on Thursday. "He's an important part of our D corps and he brings an element like we all know, and he's worked hard the last few days while he wasn't available, and he's ready to go tonight."
During his time off, Gudas practiced with the team and did extra skating drills with assistants Ian Laperriere and Gord Murphy.
"That week of back-skating wasn't pretty," the burly Gudas said with a smile.
Hakstol said he wanted Gudas to play "his game" and not be affected by the suspension.
The Flyers have lost their last four games in St. Louis, scoring a total of one goal in the process. Since Danny Briere scored at the Scottrade Center in 2011, the Flyers have gone 147:45 without a goal here.
Brian Elliott (4-2-2, 2.36 GAA, .909 save percentage) will oppose Neuvirth in a battle of backup goalies.
Neuvirth, however, hasn't played like a backup. He is 6-3-2 and is tied with the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist for No. 1 in the NHL in save percentage (.937) and tied with Lundqvist for No. 2 in goals-against average (1.99).
Lundqvist has played 23 games - 10 more than Neuvirth.
The Flyers are on a 4-1-1 run. They badly outplayed the Islanders on Tuesday but dropped a 4-3 shootout decision.
"The Flyers are playing really well right now; they don't take any shifts off," said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, the former Flyers coach. "Everybody knows it's going to be a physical game. Everybody knows it's going to be two teams where the group of forwards really work hard and really put a lot of pressure on you. We just have to be ready for it. I think whenever you play Philadelphia, you just can't take shifts off."
Breakaways. Claude Giroux is tied for sixth in the NHL with 12 power-play points, and Shayne Gostisbehere, despite playing just 12 games, is tied for the league lead among rookies with three power-play goals ... The Flyers play in Dallas on Friday, and Hakstol said he "wasn't going through any preconceived plan" that Mason (5-8-4, 2.93, .905) will start that game. "We'll go through tonight and then make a decision for tomorrow." ... Former Flyer Scottie Upshall has four goals in 21 games for the Blues, who are led by Vladimir Tarasenko (16 goals, 27 points) and Alexander Steen (10 goals, 24 points) ... R.J. Umberger will be trying to snap a 31-game goal-less streak.