Hockey is still happening. If you slept through Saturday’s game, and Tuesday’s game, and are still sleeping, well you better wake up! The Flyers are playing the Jets tonight! That’s right, not the Wild! Is game going to be more fun? Almost certainly.
The Flyers skate in Winnipeg against the 10-4-3 Jets, who are coming off a win against the Coyotes on Tuesday. Tonight’s storylines include: Nolan Patrick might be back, is back in his hometown, at least. The Flyers have scored exactly zero goals in the last two games, and they’re looking to change that. Oh, and we get to say hey to our old pal Steve Mason tonight. That’s pretty neat.
Quick hits down, here are three things to look for, heading into tonight’s game.
1. More lineup shuffling
The Flyers have been making some big changes to the middle six. On Tuesday, they moved Weal to center, put Weise on the second line, and shuffled Filppula down to center the third line— combinations which, on the whole, didn’t look too bad. Yesterday, they practiced without any lines at all.
If Patrick makes his return tonight, this leaves space for more movement to take place, further shuffling to be done to the middle six. In the event that he does return, we can likely expect a return to the old lines, the more or less consistent arrangements that the Flyers were rolling before he got hurt. If not, they may stick with Tuesday’s lines, and give Weal another chance at center. But they’re being secretive enough, and maybe they’ll pull something weird, something else, altogether.
2. Less shooting from the point, pals
If you’ve been looking at the heamaps over the past few games, you’ll have noticed the hot spots moving closer and closer to the blue line. And after Tuesday’s game, the Flyers have made a nearly full regression to leaning heavily on firing pucks in from the point and hoping to pick up a rebound, and maybe a goal from that. And it isn’t working.
Teams are clogging up the area around the net. Goalies aren’t giving up many rebounds. The Flyers don’t have someone in position in time to tap a rebound into the net. And with scoring slipping into nonexistance, you’ve got to think that this is the first area they look to alter, if they want to increase scoring. In a perfect world.
3. Power play
With secondary scoring slipping and most of the conversation revolving around this, we haven’t been talking too much about the power play. Which has also been not great. The Flyers have scored three power play goals in their last ten games. Here, too they’ve been leaning heavily on point shots, dump and chase, and straying from generating chances off the rush, which had been working effectively for them, early in the season. With scoring across the board slipping, it makes sense that scoring on the power play would follow suit. But here’s hoping they can start to turn that around tonight.
The models up so far at Corsica favor the Jets for this one, giving the Flyers an average of 46 percent chance of winning, with a high of 52.2 and a low of 41 percent.
You can check out the (optimistic) Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Weal - Filppula - Simmonds
Lehtera - Patrick - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Raffl
Provorov - Hagg
Manning - Gostisbehere
Gudas - Sanheim