In the first four games of the infamous 2013 NHL season, the Flyers scored five goals and won one game. In the first four games of the 2013-14 NHL season, the Flyers have scored five goals and won one game.
In their fifth game of the 2013 NHL season, the Flyers scored seven goals in a blowout win that (at least somewhat) helped ignite an offense that finished ninth in the NHL in scoring.
Tonight? Well ... I generally like to think as little about last season as I possibly can, but I don't think any of us would mind if that script continued repeating itself for at least one more game.
Phoenix Coyotes (2-2-0, 4 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (1-3-0, 2 pts)
7 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: CSN Philly, FS Arizona | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the Phoenix perspective at Five For Howling
And while seven goals might be a liiiiiittle much to ask for, the Flyers definitely have a chance to, at the very least, pick up win No. 2 tonight. The Phoenix Coyotes, an average-ish team that's strong defensively but doesn't have a ton in the way of offensive firepower, are flying in to Philly off of a win last night in Detroit (incidentally, the same place the Flyers will be flying right after tonight's game ends). Catch 'em while they're tired, and all that.
But there are a lot of things to be watching out for tonight, including...
* ... do we see notable systemic changes in place tonight? Berube's talked a lot since his hiring about doing things like being faster and playing better team defense and all of that stuff that the Flyers struggle with. How much of it is empty words that won't change anything, how much of it is things that will make a difference but will need time, and how much of it will we see immediate differences on? With about four days to help learn the system before tonight's game, we should at least get the answer to the third part of that tonight.
* ... as mentioned above, can the offense finally get going? Whether it was systemic issues, talent deficiencies, bad luck, or some combination of all three, this offense has just been unimpressive in the early going this year. It'll get better in time, because it basically has to, but there's no guarantee it happens tonight against a Phoenix team that's pretty sound on defense.
* ... how's the goaltending look? Steve Mason has probably been the most impressive player on the Flyers through the season's first week, and while I'd imagine that sequence of words is the beginning of a joke more often than it is actual hockey analysis, it's hard to deny he's been quite good so far. He kept the Flyers in their game in Carolina last Sunday and basically stole them Tuesday's win against Florida. Strong odds are he won't keep this level of dominance up forever, but it's quite fun while it's lasting and it'd be great if we could get more of it in the meantime, assuming he is indeed the one starting tonight.
There's more to wonder about, but those seem like the most pressing things at this point in time. As for the lineup, the only real question is whether or not Jay Rosehill or Kris Newbury will be on the fourth line. As for the goalie, Sam Carchidi of the Inquirer said on Thursday that Mason is "expected to get the start" tonight, which isn't surprising given his aforementioned good play so far.
Questions to Answer
- How do the Flyers start the game, at home against a team that traveled after playing on the road the night before?
- Is the goaltending good again?
- Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read and Scott Hartnell enter tonight with as many combined points this year as me. Which one of them gets off the schneid tonight?
- Now that he's had a few days as head coach, do we notice any sort of systemic change for the team in Craig Berube's second game behind the bench?
- The Flyers have been beaten up on possession the last few games. Tonight?
Gamethread up before the game starts. Five for Howling has the Phoenix side of things. Go Flyers.