2014-14 NHL Season :: Game 35 of 82
5th in Metropolitan
|Saturday, December 27, 2014 :: 8:00 p.m. ET|
|Bridgestone Arena :: Nashville, Tenn., USA|
|Get the Nashville perspective at On The Forecheck|
Flyers are back! Hooray! Hope you all enjoyed the past few days. Notes on tonight's game are as follows:
- The Flyers' annual December road swing has got off to a darn good start, as they've picked up wins in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Minnesota and actually looked fairly respectable in all three. Reasonably almost left for dead earlier in the month, they're inching back into playoff contention as we near the halfway mark of the season.
- In fact, as the road trip resumes, it's worth noting that the Flyers -- excluding goals that are counted as a result of shootouts -- actually have scored one more goal than they've allowed this season. And with an all-situations PDO of just 100.5 (per war-on-ice.com), it's not like that result is a product of wildly unsustainable percentages. Is this team that's looked bad for most of the season to date actually a bit closer to average? Maybe we're finding out.
- Tonight's game is probably the toughest of any on this eight-game swing, as they'll be facing a Nashville team that -- to the surprise of many -- has been one of the NHL's best through the season's first few months.
- As you likely also know, the coach who's overseen that strong start for Nashville is one who's very familiar to all of us. Peter Laviolette, who of course spent parts of five different seasons in Philadelphia before getting the boot three games into last season, is the man behind the bench for Nashville, and by all accounts he seems to be doing alright for himself. Since he sat out the rest of last season after the Flyers cut him loose, this will be the first time he's faced his old team since the firing.
- Bigger storyline: It remains to be seen how all of the Flyers' players will react to facing their old teammate, Shea Weber. Should have kept that guy. (Or something like that.)
- Even bigger storyline: James Neal plays for the Predators now! (He is still the worst.) (That's the storyline.)
- In seriousness, though the Preds are a more offensively threatening team than they have been in years past, they've been winning this year the same way they have most years: defense and goaltending. They're second in the NHL in goals allowed per game, behind only Chicago with a stingy 2.09 allowed per contest. Pekka Rinna is the NHL leader in save percentage among starting goalies with a .934, and the Preds allow the ninth-fewest shots on goal per game. So the Flyers, who have scored 16 goals across their last three games, will have their offensive chops put to the test.
- The lineup will be the same as it was in the team's last game in Minnesota, which means no Zac Rinaldo and no Michael Del Zotto. Rinaldo skated with the team this morning, so by all accounts it looks like he's being healthy scratched in favor of a Chris VandeVelde - Vincent Lecavalier - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fourth line that has been responsible for three goals in the last two games. So I suppose that's noteworthy. Meanwhile, Del Zotto will be out for his tenth straight game, and will not get a chance to play against the team that cut him loose last summer.
- Ray Emery will start in net.
Game at 8. Welcome back. Go Flyers.