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Flyers vs. Avalanche preview: Getting healthier?

The Flyers are expecting some relief tonight, as it appears Shayne Gostisbehere will return from injury.

Kate Frese / SBNation
Kate Frese / SBNation

The Flyers look to build off their 2-0 shutout of first-place St. Louis when they host the Colorado Avalanche tonight back at the Wells Fargo Center.

With injuries taking their toll on the Flyers’ blue line in recent weeks, coach Dave Hakstol rode with husband top-4 of Ivan Provorov, Brandon Manning, Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim in the shutout over the Blues. Provorov was the obvious standout, shutting down all-world winger Vladimir Tarasenko and blocking a ridiculous 10 shots in the game.

But much like old adage that a teams best penalty killer is its goalie, its best defense

can also be the goaltender. That rang true for the Flyers against St. Louis, where Michal Neuvirth was phenomenal in turning aside all 33 shots he faced to earn the shutout. For the latter stages of the third period Neuvirth stood on his head and stole a pair of road points for his club, which had lost yet another defenseman—Radko Gudas—to injury the night before in Chicago.

Help is on the way, however, for the Flyers beleaguered defense, with Shayne Gostisbehere expected back in the lineup against the Avs. The dynamic defenseman was injured on a questionable hit in Toronto last Saturday and had missed each of the team's previous three games this past week.

Colorado has gotten off to a fast start (7-5, 14 points in 12 games) after finishing dead last in the league last year with just 22 wins and 48 points. The Avs are led in scoring by Mikko Rantanen, who has 11 points (4G, 7A), and former No. 1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon, with 10 points (3G, 7A) in the early going. While Shayne Gostisbehere is the Flyers’ dynamo on the blue line, it’s smooth skating Tyson Barrie for the Avs.

In goal the Flyers could turn back to Michal Neuvirth following his shutout of the Blues. He’s 0-4 with a 3.54 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage against the Avs, though his numbers on the whole have been much better this season, with his lone rough game coming against Ottawa where he allowed five goals.

Semyon Varlamov is back healthy for Colorado and is 2-2-1 with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage career vs. the Flyers.