Flyers vs. Hurricanes preview: Lots to work on as team returns home

Bruce Bennett

Can the Flyers snap their three-game losing streak back at home against Carolina? There's a lot to work on.

Much like losing has become a common theme so far this season, so has this saying: Well, they lost last night, but at least they can forget about it with a strong performance tonight! Right back on the horse, guys!

Canes_red_mediumFlyers_orange_medium
Carolina Hurricanes (3-3-0) at Philadelphia Flyers (2-6-0)
7:00 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, Pa.
TV: CSN Philly, FS Carolinas | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Carolina perspective at Canes Country

... ugh. The Flyers welcome in the Carolina Hurricanes for the first of a four-game homestand this evening, and while it'll be nice to finally play back at home, the Flyers have a ton of work to do. There are a million different issues to work on, and it's all complicated by the multitude of injuries that face the club.

The newest of those, of course, is Wayne Simmonds, who will almost certainly miss tonight's game with a head injury. (I'm of the opinion that it'd be irresponsible to even let him thinking about playing anyway after the way he was clocked last night.) But the season isn't getting any shorter. It's time to put some points together now before Mad Lavi™ from Friday night turns into the Hulk or something.

Things to work on:

* Special teams. Power play is still atrocious, and Laviolette in particular is over the opinion that specialty teams momentum can help get a team going at 5-on-5. The Flyers have been decent at 5-on-5 in terms of controlling possession, but they need the power play production badly because pucks just aren't going in the net at even strength.

* Turnovers. Two goals last night were the direct result of turnovers. They've been particularly bad between the blue lines, but

* I mentioned this on Twitter during the game last night, but it really felt like the defense was letting the Capitals walk all over them. Whether it's giving up the blue line easily or giving the opposition tons of space once they gain the blue line, the Flyers just look weak on defense in general to me. Maybe it's a symptom of speed. I don't know. But when you give the other team time with the puck or allow them to skate north without struggle, bad things are going to happen.

I'd imagine a similar lineup tonight to what we saw last night, but probably with a slight shakeup and Tom Sestito back in the mix thanks to Simmonds' absence. (Paging Eric Wellwood...)

As for our opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, they're totally healthy and have some impressive firepower this season. Eric Staal scored their lone goal last night in a 1-0 win over Ottawa, and they've added Jordan Staal and Alex Semin to the mix for some extra pop. Jeff Skinner is still hanging around, too. They have the potential to be a pretty solid offensive team, even if they're a bottom-half team so far in total offense.

Carolina's special teams have struggled -- in fact, their power play is worse than the Flyers', converting at just 10 percent so far on the year. Their PK is a touch better at 76.7 percent, but much like last night, this could be an evening where each team's inept PP helps boost their opponent's weak PK numbers. The Canes are 16th in the league in terms of PIM per game with 15.3.

Dan Ellis started last night for Carolina, so I'd expect to see Cam Ward in goal tonight. It's a back to back so we could see Michael Leighton for the Flyers, I guess, but I'd really be shocked if Ilya Bryzgalov doesn't get the start. We'll know later today.

Five questions to answer

1. ... power play? *cricket noise*

2. Can the defense tighten up?

3. A completed pass would be great. Like, from one Flyers' stick to another one. I know we're setting the bar low here guys, but can this happen?

4. If he starts, is Bryz still brilliant?

5. On the positive side, Tye McGinn looked really good against Washington and could get a really big opportunity with Simmonds out. How does he perform tonight?

***

Game thread will be up at 6 p.m. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. on CSN and 97.5 The Fanatic. Score goals tonight, Flyers. And not just you, Bruno Gervais.

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