As the Flyers look to break their three game (holy crap it’s really only been three games?) losing streak, they face-off against possibly one of the very few coaches in the league who is worse than Dave Hakstol. The orange and black take on the Anaheim Ducks tonight lead by superhuman goaltender John Gibson, and whatever else is left of this Randy Carlyle coached Ducks team.
Anaheim sits 5-5-2 on the young season, just two points out of a wild card spot in the West, and just one point behind Edmonton for third place in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have been carried by their goalies. Gibson comes into tonight’s game with a .938 save percentage in 10 games, and his backup Ryan Miller has the same in three starts. The offense of the Ducks has been cursed by father time, with the dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry beginning to show their age. Perry specifically has been hit by the injury bug, and is out until February after undergoing knee surgery before the regular season began. Meanwhile Getzlaf has only played seven of the team’s 12 games, although he is point per game in those contests.
Now, what can the Flyers do tonight to end this seemingly never ending losing streak, and at the very least spark some life into this dull and depressing season? Well, two new guys certainly may at least provide the life. Tyrell Goulbourne was recalled along with Nicolas Aube-Kubel on Sunday, along with sending Mikhail Vorobyev to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. This is a move virtually of desperation, Goulbourne was recalled last year in early January to provide energy and well, it sure looks like the same logic applies in this case. Aube-Kubel is more than just an “energy player”, but he does provide some physicality and aggressiveness to a team that desperately needs a pick-me-up.
1. Can we please, for the love of everything, start a game on the right foot for once?
Blah blah, Flyers never score the game’s first goal, blah blah. We all know this storyline by now, but that does not change the importance of it. The Flyers cannot continue to give up the opening goal, and especially when facing one of the hottest goalies on the planet right now in John Gibson. Giving up the first goal tonight could very well mean instant defeat, regardless of when the goal occurs. Goulbourne and NAK are here for energy, and the Flyers need a quick start, wouldn’t necessarily hurt to throw them out there for the opening shift. Besides, it’s not like anything else has been working lately, might as well change it up!
2. Weise on the third line
Yesterday it was reported that Dale Weise was taking some reps on the third line, and all signs point to the winger starting on that line tonight. Now, I realize I just mentioned nothing else has been working lately, so Hakstol may as well change some things up, but I did not mean this. Weise has been one of the most under-performing players on the team this year, and he’s getting promoted? This just makes absolutely no sense especially considering how well a player like Scott Laughton has played, but it looks like this is what we’re getting.
Speaking of Laughton, there was some concern yesterday if he was being scratched and we would see a Goulbourne — Lehtera — Aube-Kubel fourth line, but now that has appeared to have dissipated. It’s looking as though Goulbourne will be the scratch, which means a Laughton — Lehtera — Aube-Kubel fourth line. What doesn’t add up in all of this, is the fact Goulbourne was seemingly recalled for energy reasons, so why scratch him? Why not simply scratch Weise, move Laughton to the third line, then roll the former fourth line listed, and have all the grit anyone could ever ask for? This just seems pointless to call a guy up for the sole purpose of energy, and then to not even play him on the first opportunity to.
Then again, I have no idea why I’m trying to rationalize Dave Hakstol’s lineup decisions at this point.
3. We need you to be BAMF Elliott tonight, Brian
The Flyers goaltending has been less than ideal in these opening games, but it for sure has not been the main reason they’ve been losing games. Tonight however, the Flyers are most likely going to need Brian Elliott to be on the very top of his game. The likelihood of a barn burner tonight instead of a goalie duel seems low, so if the Flyers can hang around in this game and keep to within a goal or two, anything can happen. Sure, it probably won’t because this team has the comeback ability of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but we can dream can’t we?
The last time Elliott faced the Ducks, he allowed six goals on 25 shots, en route to a 6-2 loss at home in October 2017. The Flyers will be hoping we instead see the Elliott who backstopped the Flyers to a 3-2 win on the road in Anaheim earlier that month, stopping 21 of 23 shots.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Giroux — Couturier — Konecny
Lindblom — Patrick — Voracek
Weise — Weal — Simmonds
Laughton/Goulbourne — Lehtera — Aube-Kubel
Provorov — Hagg
Gostisbehere — MacDonald
Sanheim — Gudas