Hey, everyone! Are YOU excited that you now know that the Flyers will, in fact, make it through the month of October with at least one win in the standings? Because I know I sure am!
/hears distant cheer from afar
That's what I'm talking about.
So! The Flyers, fresh off of said win against a good Dallas team, will play part one of a quite difficult two-night, two-game set, and they'll be in the Windy City to face one of the NHL's most well-rounded, talented teams in the Blackhawks.
You know that speedy, skilled attack that the Flyers faced last Saturday in Dallas? Imagine that on offense, with a team that actually plays sound defense as well. That's more or less what we're in for today.
The Flyers had a lot going for them on Saturday night in Texas, generally doing a pretty good job keeping play moving in the right direction and converting twice on the power play. The defense was spotty as it often is, but we'll take what we can get. Tonight, the defense is probably going to need to put forth one of its best efforts of the season, as it goes up against a Chicago team that's quick, fundamentally sound, and makes you pay for the kinds of lapses that the Flyers so often make. There's no real weakness in that Chicago lineup, so if there's ever a time for one of those borderline-mythical "60-minute efforts", this may be one of them.
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have started the season well, but given that the Blackhawks do have last change, they're probably going to go up against that Toews line for most of the evening. That will be quite a challenge. The second line has looked better lately with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare centering it, and Sean Couturier's line is still doing its thing across all 200 feet of the ice, but top-to-bottom, this is the best team the Flyers have faced so far. They've been in every game they've played so far, so it'd be pretty excellent to see them hang with this team.
(Unrelated: would anyone be even a little bit surprised if Trevor van Riemsdyk scored a goal tonight? I'm thinking it's gonna happen.)
Lineup-wise, we may be in for a bit of an odd night from the Flyers. Braydon Coburn, who hasn't played since the opener due to a foot injury, is a game-time decision according to Craig Berube, who also hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing seven defensemen to go with only 11 forwards. Seems like a silly solution to me given this team's strengths and weaknesses, but hey, what do I know. Other than that potential change, one figures that the lineup will likely remain the same as last game.
In net, Steve Mason will try and shake off an iffy start on Saturday and will get the nod. For the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, meaning Antti Raanta will be in the cage.
8:30 p.m. start tonight. Go Flyers.
Philadelphia Flyers at Chicago Blackhawks
8:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. CT
United Center in Chicago, Ill.
In Philly: CSN Philly, 97.5 The Fanatic, SiriusXM
In Chicago: CSN Chicago, WGN Radio AM-720, SiriusXM
Everywhere else: NBC Sports Network
Get Chicago coverage over at Second City Hockey