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Flyers anxious to end skid against the Leafs

Luke Schenn #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against his brother Brayden Schenn #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on September 21, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett/2011 Getty Images

Brother versus brother, backup versus backup.

There are a ton of different storylines heading into Monday night's tilt between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers, but the most important one is likely that the Flyers are a little bit ornery after having lost three of their last four games after a 3-0 start.

They want to get back in the saddle again here at home, meaning this will likely be one of the toughest battles of the season to date for the 5-1-1 Leafs.

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"There's room for improvement in different areas that we've talked about in the last couple days," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said after the morning skate. "We'll work on that and get things back on track here."

For Leafs coach Ron Wilson, the biggest key is getting the puck quickly and accurately out of trouble. (That's been a theme from the coach in the early going this season, as he hasn't always liked what he's seen from both the forwards and defence on this front.)

"We have to establish our forecheck early in the game," Wilson said. "Not turn pucks over in the neutral zone. If we're playing on our toes, we can accomplish that. If we're on our heels, then it's a struggle. So it's getting on our toes and pushing the puck forward."

As for those other storylines...

It's Schenn v. Schenn (again)

They faced one another in preseason, but this time the game will be for real, and for that reason the entire Schenn family flew in from Saskatoon to watch Luke battle brother Brayden.

There are so many brother combos around the NHL that familial battles have become rather common, but this will only be Brayden's 12th NHL game and the pair are pretty high profile, high picked Canadian players.

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"It's a dream come true for sure for me and my brother," Luke Schenn said. "It's a pretty cool feeling to have your little brother [in the NHL] It's probably more exciting for me personally than it is for Brayden ... It's a ton of kids' dreams and it doesn't become a reality too often. We're very fortunate and very lucky."

The Schenn brothers are very close, as they keep in contact every day and met for dinner here in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

Don't think we'll be seeing a fight between those two, in other words.

It's Gustavsson v. Bobrovsky

Probably wise to take the over in this one.

Jonas Gustavsson's issues in the crease are well documented at this point, but Flyers backup Sergei Bobrovsky really struggled in the postseason last year and is probably a step down from No. 1 Ilya Bryzgalov.

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Laviolette said they had planned on getting their backup into this game well ahead of time while Gustavsson starts due to the fact James Reimer is nursing a minor injury.

Both Wilson and defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, Gustavsson's close friend, again defended Gustavsson's play when questioned about his recent struggles.

"Even last year, those games he played, the team didn't play well," Gunnarsson said. "Looking at the stats right now, going back to last year, you can't tell how the team played. What I remember is he played pretty well and the team was not good defensively when he was in the net."

Here's more on how big of a game this is for Gustavsson here.


- Wilson called Tyler Bozak a game-time decision, but he wasn't on Phil Kessel's line at the morning skate, which likely means his badly bruised foot will keep him out of a second straight game. Expect Matt Lombardi and David Steckel to split time between Kessel and Joffrey Lupu.

- The Leafs used an emergency recall to bring up Ben Scrivens to backup Gustavsson against the Flyers, but the team is almost certain Reimer will be recovered from his neck injury by Thursday against the New York Rangers. "He seems almost 100 per cent today," Wilson said. "James should be fine by Thursday the way it looks right now."

- Something to keep in mind: If Gustavsson struggles in this one, the up-and-coming Scrivens could be playing in his next recall. He's held in very high regard by the organization and will be playing some NHL games at some point. Scrivens had a 6 a.m. flight to get in for this one but had the biggest smile (other than Schenn) out of anyone in the Leafs dressing room.

- Centre Tim Connolly's getting very close to a return (upper-body injury) but isn't quite there yet. Expect to see him in one of the next two or three games though as he's taking contact in practice.

- Wilson added that he wants to roll four lines throughout the game so look for that. "Keep our shifts short," Wilson said.

- Appears Colton Orr is out yet again. He's been a healthy scratch for five of the team's first seven games. And defenceman Cody Franson will sit for the fifth time against the Flyers and may not get in again unless there's an injury.

Leafs projected lineup

MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Lupul - Lombardi - Kessel Kadri - Steckel - Frattin Brown - Dupuis - Rosehill

Gunnarsson - Phaneuf Gardiner - Schenn Liles - Komisarek


Flyers projected lineup

Schenn - Briere - Simmonds Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr van Riemsdyk - Read - Voracek Shelley - Couturier - Talbot

Carle - Pronger Coburn - Timonen Walker - Meszaros


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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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