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Maple Leafs-Flyers Preview

AP - Sports

A poor start doomed the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

They hope the addition of several key veterans will prevent that from happening again.

With at least Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit expected to make their respective team debuts Wednesday night, the Flyers attempt to open 2013-14 in strong fashion against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Philadelphia lost six of its first eight games last season and went on to miss the playoffs for just the second time in 18 tries. The Flyers fell five points short of the postseason with a 23-22-3 record.

"Every team's objective is to get off to a good start," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We didn't get one last year. We were disappointed about that, and it put us behind the eight-ball. We scratched and clawed all year, and it didn't work out for us."

Some new faces could make a difference.

The Flyers signed Lecavalier as a free agent and acquired Streit - also a former captain - from the New York Islanders.

Lecavalier, 33, was inked to a five-year, $22.5 million contract after spending all of his 14 NHL seasons with Tampa Bay. He had 10 goals with 22 assists in 2012-13.

The center has 52 points in 50 career meetings with Toronto, including four goals and one assist in the past six.

Streit, 35, spent the last four seasons as the Islanders' top defenseman before moving to Philadelphia on a $21-million, four-year deal.

The Flyers' final key offseason move was re-acquiring Ray Emery, who won 16 games for them in 2009-10.

After going 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average in 21 games as a backup for Stanley Cup champion Chicago, Emery is expected to split time in net with Steve Mason after Philadelphia bought out the remainder of Ilya Bryzgalov's nine-year, $51 million contract.

Mason went 4-2-0 with a 1.90 GAA in seven games last season after being picked up in a trade from Columbus.

He doesn't see Emery as competition.

"Everybody wants to put (their) spin on it," Mason told the team's official website. "I'm not out there to battle Ray or anything like that, I'm just trying to get better in my own, individual way, and if he's out there pushing me, that's a good thing."

Despite the new additions, the Flyers will still rely heavily on captain Claude Giroux, who underwent offseason surgery on his right index finger after a golfing accident.

Giroux is trying to improve on his 48 points from last season after totaling career highs of 28 goals and 93 points in 2011-12.

The Flyers dropped two of three to the Maple Leafs last season, including a 4-2 home defeat Feb. 25 after winning seven of the previous eight there.

Toronto opened its season with a 4-3 win at Montreal on Tuesday. The victory included five fights with Canadiens enforcer George Parros leaving on a stretcher with a concussion after hitting his face on the ice when the Leafs' Colton Orr pulled him down.

James van Riemsdyk, who scored the league's first goal of the season, gets another shot at his former team. He had a pair of goals in three games last season against Philadelphia, where he spent his first three years.

James Reimer got his season off to a strong start by making 34 saves, but it's unclear if he'll be back in net.

Like Philadelphia, the Maple Leafs also acquired a goaltender during the offseason, trading for Jonathan Bernier from Los Angeles.

Bernier went 9-3-0 with a 1.88 GAA in 14 games as Jonathan Quick's backup last season.

"When I'm in there, I'm not competing against anybody on my team," Reimer said. "I'm competing against the other team, not the guys sitting beside me."

Reimer has lost three of five meetings with the Flyers behind a 3.23 GAA, while Bernier lost his only meeting 7-4 with the Kings on Dec. 30, 2010. He gave up six goals on 22 shots before being pulled midway through the second period.

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