Happy Saturday, friends! We’re back at it again tonight with another late game, so buckle in, and make sure to grab a cup of your caffeine of choice to go along with your game snacks. It’s happening.
The Flyers are squaring off against the San Jose Sharks for the second and final time this season. And this is just about when we usually recap the last time we met this team, but… do we really want to talk about it? We’ll make it a quick hit, rip it off like a band aid: home opener. Eight goals against. Sadness.
This was a pretty distinct dark spot on the Flyers’ early season run, and while it wasn’t the only one, they’re looking like they may be trending upward. They picked up wins against Anaheim and Los Angeles earlier this week, and while those wins came against struggling teams, the Flyers were looking better.
Since we last saw the Sharks, they’ve been sort of up and down themselves, dropping five of their last nine games. How much weight should we give that? Probably not too much. We saw up close and personally how dangerous the Sharks can look when they get going, the amount of firepower that possess. But, all the same, it seems they have some weaknesses that team have been exploring. The Flyers are just going to have to keep their heads down and get to work.
1. A full 60 minutes, friends
The first, and perhaps biggest, key to that is to make sure that they play the full 60 minutes. Through this early part of the season, we’ve seen them come out flat and struggle to get going, or to let off the gas when holding onto a lead and start giving up undue chances. This, in short, can’t happen. This is the most difficult opponent the Flyers have faced so far in this West coast swing, and they can’t afford to be giving up chances for free. We’re not asking them to be perfect, but this may well be the their best chance to prove that they are indeed getting on track, that they aren’t going to forfeit chances or wither if they fall behind. They don’t need to be perfect, they just need to show up, to play a complete game.
We got some new looks on Tuesday in Anaheim with the power play, and, after switching it back later in the game, the Flyers went back to the new configuration for Thursday’s game against the Kings (got all that?). The new look yielded results on Tuesday, but couldn’t convert on Thursday, but only had the one chance to do so. There’s been quite a bit of volatility with the power play, both in terms of configuration and results, of late. The new looks have shown some promise, with a goal on their first go and four scoring chances in their one look on Thursday, and may not be too far away from converting on some of their chances, if only they can be kept together long enough to do so.
3. Quality chances
A pretty swell trend that’s been emerging through the last couple of games is the Flyers actually putting an emphasis on getting to the net and creating high quality chances. No over reliance on shooting from the point and hoping for rebounds or tips that didn’t come. They’re actually doing the good work and crashing the net and, guess what, they’re being rewarded for it. The perimeter offense didn’t work against the Sharks the last time these two teams met, and hasn’t really worked against anybody so far this season, hasn’t helped them in scoring goals when they desperately needed to be. They seem to have found an answer, but we’ve seen this before—they go a few games doing this sort of good work, and then they regress back to that perimeter offense. Maybe they’ve learned this time? We can only hope.
Puck drops at 10:30 tonight, and you can check out the Flyers’ prospective lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek
Weise - Weal - Simmonds
Laughton - Lehtera - Aube-Kubel
Provorov - Hagg
Gostisbehere - Folin
Sanheim - Gudas