So, last night was rough. We were expecting a fun night of hockey and got an ugly loss to the Sabres, who are objectively not very good. I understand if we’re all feeling a little fragile right now. Are we ready to talk about the Flyers again?
If not, I’ll delay a moment.
Today is Festivus! It’s also Jori Lehtera’s birthday! We’re celebrating those things and more with one big Broad Street Hockey party! So, if you’re looking for some company tonight, or to have some cheap drinks (there will be specials!), come hang out with us at the Broad Street Bullies Pub inside Xfinity Live. It’ll be a good time, I promise.
OK, so I guess it’s time to talk about the game. The Flyers hit the back end of a back to back tonight, and square off against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are objectively much better than the Sabres. The Jackets currently sit at third in the Metro with 44 points and a 21-13-2 record. By contrast, the Flyers are back in sole possession of dead last in the division, with 37 points and 15-13-7 record. So there’s that.
On paper, this match-up looks like it could be ugly, but with the Flyers likely not feeling so good after last night’s loss, they may be looking to make a big statement with this one, evening the road trip record and going out on a high note, before heading home for the Christmas break.
There’s a lot that the Flyers will have to shore up if they want to pull this one out, and look no further than these three areas to lead the way.
1. Brian Elliott
So, despite the team in front of him looking really flat last night, Elliott was all but exceptional. He stopped all but two of the shots he faced, and kept the early deficit from being much more than it was. He was absolutely the best player on the ice for them last night.
But now it’s the second game in a back to back, and he’s probably tired. If Neuvirth were healthy, it would stand to reason that he would get the start, but with Lyon backing up and Hakstol’s reservations, historically, about using AHL call-ups to start games, it looks like Elliott will be starting once again. Potential fatigue and all. He was excellent last night, and they’ll need him to be on again tonight. Hopefully the team in front can tighten up and give him a bit of help, but they’ll still need a solid effort out of Elliott.
2. Don’t do that thing you did yesterday
You know the one.
If you’re sitting here wondering how the Flyers cannot connect on a single pass, well, I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any answers for you. Somehow, they’ve slipped into playing incredibly passively, sitting back and letting their plays get broken up. We saw some flashes of aggression last night, but it was an overwhelmingly lax effort. And it was the type you might expect to see out of a team on the second night of a back to back, rather than the first.
I don’t know how much more there is to say, other than they need to stop doing that. They’re at their best when they’re using their speed and pushing play on their own. And let’s hope they can find their way back to that.
3. The kids!
Another bright spot from last night’s game, and the few that preceded it? The kids are really coming on. Hagg picked up his first NHL goal on Wednesday, and while he didn’t have a particularly strong showing last night, he’s been just fine, on the whole. But Sanheim and Patrick had big nights, to be sure. Sanheim is looking more and more comfortable jumping in on the rush and dipping low in the zone to create chances, and Patrick just finally looks like he’s coming into his own, showing some flashes of the speed we’ve been looking for. And this play? A beauty. Let’s relive it.
Nolan Patrick with an amazing scoring chance, the hands on this guy are pretty darn good! pic.twitter.com/we052fuPvi— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 23, 2017
The kids are indeed alright, so let’s hope that they can keep building on these solid efforts.
Do we want to talk about what the Corsica models are projecting for this one? Avert your eyes if you don’t even want to know. The models up so far are giving the Flyers a high of 44.5 percent and an average of 40.1 percent chance of winning. So… yikes.
Puck drops at 7. Party starts at 6. You can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Weal - Patrick - Weise
Leier - Laughton - Konecny
Provorov - MacDonald
Hagg - Gostisbehere
Sanheim - Gudas