Hey! Hey guys! You know what’s better than a game that starts at 9:30 at night?
A game that starts at 9:30 and then a game that starts at 10:00 the night after. Who needs to go to bed early?
The Flyers close out their Western Canadian swing tonight in Vancouver. After the ten-game losing streak, they’ve kicked off a newer and fresher streak, with back to back wins on the road for the first time in about a year. And that feels pretty neat.
If you haven’t totally blocked out the Flyers’ last meeting with the Canucks—which, you know, would be reasonable since it was dead in the middle of the ten-game losing streak—you’ll remember that the Flyers dropped that one 5-2. There were two empty net goals involved, so the suggested blowout wasn’t quite a blowout. But it was ugly.
The Canucks have hit a bit of a hot streak, as they sit at third in the division and are in the middle of a three-game win streak. They’re rested after their win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday, but will be without center Bo Horvat, who is estimated to be out for six weeks with a fractured foot. Horvat had been centering their top line, and has 20 points through these first 28 games.
Yesterday, I broke down three things to look for in the game against the Oilers, with two of them being issues or potential issues that needed fixing. And they fixed them.
So, welcome to my articles, the Hockey Team the Flyers. Let’s dig into three things to look for in tonight’s game.
1. Give Maddie one million dollars
No...? Fine. It was worth a shot.
1. Elliott’s strength has to hold
With Michal Neuvirth out for the next week or two, the onus of main goaltending has fallen even harder on Elliott’s shoulders. He’s been given the larger share of work to begin with, and deservedly so, but your backup shifting from “NHL backup” to “AHL backup turned inadvertent AHL starter,” and the defense in front of you consisting of an AHL lifer, two rookies, two veterans under the age of 25, and one Andrew MacDonald, your buffer starts to shrink. And that isn’t a knock on Lyon, who may well actually be a perfectly competent NHL backup, now that he’s up, but the team is still relying on Elliott, and he has to be good. The Flyers have finally begun to show that they can get something sparked, and they don’t necessarily need lights out goaltending, but they certainly need Elliott to show up.
2. Secondary scoring
Once upon a time, the Flyers were able to get this thing called secondary scoring going. It was a mystical time, before the losing streak, even, and we’ve been calling for its return for what feels like ages.
And, at long last, we have been rewarded. With Laughton, Simmonds, and Raffl breaking into the scoring conversation over the last few games, it seems the Flyers have finally solved the secondary scoring question. But if we know anything about this Flyers team, it’s that they’ve been streaky, to say the least. So have they found a permanent solution? Will they slip back into the old trend of the first line carrying the team’s scoring? Only time will tell.
3. Third line has to find its legs
While the shifts to the lines have led to some solid tangible results—namely that secondary scoring thing we just talked about—but it’s also left one line dragging behind. The line of Konecny-Patrick-Weise—third by the ordering but fourth by icetime—has been lagging behind. They’ve been, in short, not great. Against the Flames, they averaged an adjusted CF% of 14.7 percent at even strength, and 38.51 percent against the Oilers. And while the numbers from the Edmonton game still aren’t fantastic, they do mark an improvement, which isn’t nothing. To be sure, they’ve been defensively sheltered and their icetime has taken hits, but they may be taking steps in the right direction. The Flyers looked most dangerous early in the season when they were able to get all of the lines rolling, and this line getting established is the final step in the team getting back to that.
The models over at Corsica again seem to be against the Flyers, on this one, giving them an average of 48.5 percent chance of winning. Can they prove the models wrong two nights in a row? A girl can dream.
You can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below, and we’ll see you at 10 p.m. for our next edition of Flyers After Dark.
Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds
Raffl - Filppula - Voracek
Konecny - Patrick - Weise
Leier - Laughton - Weal
Provorov - MacDonald
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Alt - Sanheim