Flyers should claim battle of backups 

December, 10, 2009

OK, I know that picking games hasn't been my strong suit during the past several weeks. Clearly I'm slumping. If only I could fire a coach to make things better. Oh well.

I really think I'm due for a turnaround. The odds have to start leaning in my favor soon, right? I think I have a handle on this six-game Thursday schedule, and I guess I'll know for sure soon enough. Here are my selections:

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers rolled the Senators 5-1 in the first meeting between the clubs on Nov. 12 in Philly. Of course, those Flyers hadn't dropped eight of their previous 10 games. The Senators haven't exactly been on fire, either. Despite a call to arms from owner Eugene Melnyk, the Sens are 4-5-1 in their past 10. Each team is missing its starting goaltender because of injury, so this will be a matchup between backups Brian Boucher (Philly) and Brian Elliott (Ottawa). I'll take Boucher and the Flyers.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.