The Flyers look to get back on track when they welcome in Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers for a 1 p.m. puck drop on Saturday afternoon. The matinee will air on NBCSP locally and on radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.
Coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss against Nashville to snap their modest two-game winning streak, the Flyers will need to tread carefully against a slumping (2-4, 4 points) but dangerous Oilers team that features arguably the best player in the game today in Connor McDavid.
After losing in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Anaheim Ducks a year ago, the Oilers have sputtered to start 2017-18. A McDavid opening night hat trick—much like the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds—led the Oilers to a 3-0 win, but they’d wait until two nights ago to get their second win with a 2-1 overtime decision over the Blackhawks.
For the Flyers, they’re just thankful to be done with playing the Nashville Predators. Two of the Flyers’ three losses have been to Nashville, who the Flyers wouldn’t play again until the Stanley Cup Final should both teams make it. Aside from the Predators, the Flyers have been pretty solid, with their only other loss being a shutout in Los Angeles where Jonathan Quick was just phenomenal.
To get back in the win column, Dave Hakstol’s club will have to get back to business on the man-advantage, an area in which they went 0 for 5 against the Predators on Thursday. They also need to generate and get more shots through traffic and on net at even strength. The folks over at corsica.hockey had the Flyers at just a 42.86% Corsi For in that game.
That being said, the Flyers did have several dangerous chances that could have easily beaten Pekka Rinne in that game, namely Claude Giroux’s wraparound attempt and a couple of nice chances from Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds in front.
Looking ahead, the Flyers will face an Oilers team that will shoot from anywhere, much like the Panthers did early in the week. Edmonton actually leads the league with a 58.8% Corsi For through six games, just ahead of those Panthers. The Flyers will have to contend with McDavid, who has eight points (3G, 5A) in six games, but could miss out on the Oilers’ other dynamic forward, Leon Draisaitl, who has been out with a concussion.
There’s also the whole Brandon Manning and Connor McDavid drama, which dates back two years when the two tangled up and resulted in a broken clavicle for McDavid. Manning has since answered for the hit, but there’s probably still bad blood there, even though Manning probably will not even play today. He’ll likely sit again for Travis Sanheim, who was excellent on Thursday against Nashville.
In net, Oilers starter Cam Talbot has had a tough start to the year. After winning 42 games and finishing fourth in the Vezina Trophy voting a year ago, the 30-year-old has struggled to a 3.17 GAA and a .901 SV% to start the season. He’s also been pulled twice since his opening night shutout of the Calgary Flames.
Brian Elliott could draw back in for the Flyers after watching Michal Neuvirth play the last two games as coach Hakstol keeps his goaltending rotation going. Elliott is 3-1 with a 3.25 GAA and an .884 SV%. The veteran has benefitted from massive goal support in his starts, with the Flyers averaging 5.25 goals per game when he starts as oppose to just 1.6 in games Neuvirth has started so far.
The only other potential lineup change could be the inclusion of Jordan Weal, who missed Thursday’s game with an unspecified injury but practiced with the team yesterday. If he can play, he’ll likely slot into Jori Lehtera’s role on the second line.
Flyers lineup (subject to change):
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Weal/Lehtera - Filppula - Simmonds
Weise - Patrick - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Raffl
Provorov - MacDonald
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Sanheim - Gudas