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Flyers vs. Blues preview: Goulbourne looks to bring energy in NHL debut

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The 2013 third-round pick is finally set to make his NHL debut for the Flyers.

Kate Frese / SBNation
Kate Frese / SBNation

The Flyers look to build off their 6-4 win over the Islanders on Thursday night with another win before their upcoming bye, a five-day stretch without games.

But before their bye, the Flyers must face back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday with the Central Division leading Blues first up for a matinee at the Wells Fargo Center.

The two teams will finish their season series after the Flyers took the first game, a 2-0 shutout, in St. Louis back on Nov. 2. Brandon Manning and Claude Giroux scored goals for the Flyers in that one while Michal Neuvirth stopped all 33 Blues shots in the win.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol would love another result like that, but the Blues are hot and winners of three-straight following a stretch that saw them lose five of six games from Dec. 17 through Dec. 29.

While Mike Yeo’s team has picked it back up in their past three games, they haven’t scored a power play goal in seven games (0-17), which is good news for the Flyers’ 29th-ranked penalty kill. Something’s gotta give as the Flyers have seen both the Penguins (2-2) and Islanders (1-1) take advantage of their power plays to start the new year.

Getting things done for the visitors are some familiar names: Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko. Schenn, who made a living off power play tallies in Philadelphia, has just four of his 17 goals on the man-advantage this season. He’s clearly benefiting from playing even strength minutes with Tarasenko, who’s one of the best players in the league and is having another fine season once again (17G, 22A).

But where the Blues really excel is goal prevention, where they’re third in the league allowing just 2.44 goals-against per game. They’re tied for fourth in team save percentage and shots allowed at 30 per game. Goalies Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have been very good for St. Louis.

It wasn’t easy scoring on Jake Allen last time around for the Flyers, who managed just one goal in their last matchup before notching a second goal with Allen on the bench for an extra attacker late. Up for the challenge is a red-hot Flyers power play coming off a three power play goal game against the Islanders. The Blues will need to slow down Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, who each have seven points in their last five games.

Looking for a boost in the energy department, the Flyers recalled Tyrell Goulbourne from the Phantoms, but a frozen toilet on a flight from Toronto prevented him from making his debut on Thursday. Per Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post, he’ll make his Flyers debut Saturday on Dave Hakstol’s fourth line.

In goal, the Flyers could turn to Brian Elliott for a 16th-straight start, he’s is 4-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in his career against his former team. While his workload has gotten a bit crazy lately, he’ll give way to Michal Neuvirth on Sunday and will have that five-day break as well.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Raffl - Filppula - Voracek

Weal - Patrick - Simmonds

Lehtera - Laughton - Goulbourne

Defense

Provorov - Gostisbehere

Hagg - MacDonald

Manning - Gudas

Goalie

Elliott

(Neuvirth)