Welcome to the first weekend of regular season hockey. Tonight, the Flyers will play the third and final game of their West Coast run to start out the season.
The Flyers, sitting at 1-1, are coming off a loss against the Kings, and will hope to gather up a second win against a beat up Ducks team. Anaheim will be without top-scoring forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kessler, as well as defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, and will have to continue to look for replacements for their production.
On the Flyers’ side, here are three things to look for in tonight’s game.
1. Travis Sanheim’s comeback
Sanheim made his NHL debut on Thursday in LA, and faced a bit of a rough start. The first two period saw him giving up turnovers, taking penalties, and in one instance, getting beat on his coverage on a play that would lead to a goal. It wasn’t a pretty start, but what was impressive was the way he rallied back in the third period. Instead of spending the rest of the game stuck in his own head, he got back the basics and trusted his own game. And it worked, as he looked more confident, even jumping in on the rush and putting two shots on goal. With him looking distinctly more settled towards the end of his first game, tonight we’ll see if he can keep this going, and hope to get our first proper look at what he can bring to the Flyers’ regular season squad.
2. Where do special teams go from here?
Over the first two games, the power play units brought a mixed bag, in terms of results. In their first game against San Jose, they went 3/5 attempts, after converting on each of their first three. Against Los Angeles, however, they went 0/5 on the night. You have to think that these types of polarized performances are not sustainable, that they would even out at some kind of middle ground, whatever that may be, and find some kind of consistency. Tonight’s game will serve as their chance to, at the very least, even out.
And while the power play has proved a bit volatile, the penalty kill has remained consistently very good. In Los Angeles, they held the Kings without a power play goal, keeping them tied up and unable to get much momentum going. The Ducks finished the regular season last year with a middling power play-- ranked at seventeenth in the league-- and the Flyers will hope that their penalty kill can hold steady and contain the Ducks.
3. Still need more from the second line
One of the most exciting lines the Flyers have put forward is its second. Centered by Nolan Patrick, with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds on the wings, they present on paper as a line with the potential to bring a great amount of offense and scoring. But we haven’t quite seen that yet. The three have shown some initial chemistry, but haven’t really been able to translate this into tangible results. Their underlying possession numbers have been middling, but middling is much less than this line has the potential to be. Now, I’m not ready to write them off entirely, and it very well may be that despite their chemistry, we’re still seeing some growing pains.
We may be getting a bit of a movement on the second line, though, as John Boruk reported this afternoon that Patrick and Filppula may be switching lines for tonight’s game. This will offer an interesting change up, to see if this can get the second line moving a better clip, as well as what kind of chemistry Patrick and Konecny might have.
The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia and 97.5 The Fanatic.
You can check out the Flyers’ full roster below, and Charlie’s video preview here.
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Weal - Filppula - Simmonds
Weise - Patrick - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Raffl
Provorov - MacDonald
Sanheim - Gudas
Hagg - Gostisbehere