Sure, it's a new year, but I wouldn't go into 2015 expecting anything different from the Flyers.
They're still the bumbling bunch you knew before. Against bad competition, they mostly look good. Against good competition, they mostly look bad. That's where we are now. This is what we've become.
After starting off their road trip on a markedly better note than expected (three straight wins!), they've dropped the last three, managing to squeeze in one last tiny disappointment into 2014 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche. I'm not sure what I expected, to be quite honest. I only watched highlights, but even they were underwhelming. Except for that Giroux goal. That was sexy.
Obviously, the biggest story during Wednesday night's game came early on, as Danny Briere caught Michael Del Zotto with a skate along his neck. It made for some truly tense moments. As I'm sure you've seen, Del Zotto posted a before and after picture on his Instagram (obvious warning for blood/gore/gross things). All I can really say is thank god it wasn't worse and that I'm really happy he was able to return so quickly. [Insert some typical and annoying "hockey players are the toughest athletes in the world" foaming at the mouth here, I guess.]
During the Flyers last tilt against Carolina, just about three weeks ago, the Flyers won handedly as five different players notched two point games (those players being Jake Voracek, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and Scott Laughton). Laughton also scored his first NHL goal, and it was super f---ing cool. On the whole, it was a very fun game that I thoroughly enjoyed, and my enjoyment wasn't even marred by the fact that I was excited about a win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Regardless, the Flyers looked great against the Hurricanes, and you can only hope for the same result. The only bit of offense Carolina got going was from captain Eric Staal, who has been disappointing for the Hurricanes. I mean, he is their leading scorer, but he's only scored 21 points through 32 games.That says something about the team, I think.
Also, the Hurricanes have a legit twelve year old on their team. His name is Jeff Skinner. I'm not sure how he's been flying under the radar like this, but I'm pretty sure it's not legal to have a twelve year old on the team. Somebody has to take this up with Bettman. Anyhow, Real Twelve Year Old Jeff Skinner isn't going to be playing tonight. They say it's because he's got flu-like symptoms, but I think it's because child labor laws exist, and for good reason.
Of course, Carolina's New Year's resolution is probably to score more than one goddang goal, because honestly, they can't buy a goal to save their collective life. They've scored only five goals in their past five games, and their power play is one for 15 in their past six. Yeesh. I'm sure that, in mentioning these things, I have now officially guaranteed that the Flyers get lit up and they lose in embarrassing fashion to the worst team in the East. So it goes.
Of course, the Canes will have Jiri Tlusty and Jordan Staal tonight whereas in December, they didn't. They're both sure to be factors in tonight's game. Or maybe not. Who knows. I'm not a fortune teller.
Steve Mason will start tonight. Mason stopped 29 out of 33 shots in the shootout loss against Colorado. He'll face Cam Ward. In Ward's last start, he stopped 37 of 39 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Penguins. He's been real good as of late.
With tonight being an all-important divisional match-up, it's vital that the only two points awarded tonight go to the Flyers. If you still have playoff hopes for this team, this would be one of those games that they absolutely need. It's certainly within reach. Go Flyers.