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Flyers vs. Coyotes preview: Gunning for points in the desert

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Flyers start quick desert trip with NHL-worst Coyotes tonight then high rolling Vegas tomorrow night.

Kate Frese / SBNation
Kate Frese / SBNation

The Flyers look to maintain their wild card positioning and extend their winning streak to three games when they visit the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

Fresh off a 5-3 win over the Canadiens on Thursday night, the Flyers find themselves in control of the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference entering play on Saturday. Travis Konecny scored twice as the Flyers’ top line racked up six points in the win. Brian Elliott won his second-straight start since returning from the injury list, stopping 25 of 28 shots in the process.

Up next is a trip to the desert to face the NHL-worst Coyotes, who have just 35 points —five less than the NHL’s next-most futile team, the Sabres. That said, the Coyotes did take down the Flyers in overtime back on Oct. 30 in Philadelphia. The Flyers will need to play well against the Coyotes, with a looming matchup with the NHL’s second-best team, the Vegas Golden Knights, on Sunday night.

Three things:

Getting a lead

The easiest way to skate away with two points against Arizona is simply to score, since they don’t do a lot of it (30th overall). The Flyers are a potent offensive team and can score in bunches, especially when the power play is clicking. The Coyotes don’t take a ton of penalties, so the Flyers need to capitalize on the chances they do get.

That said, the Flyers did watch the Coyotes skate out to a 3-0 in Philadelphia before coming all the way back to earn a loser point. If they go down early again, they might not be so lucky and could kick themselves for this game down the road.

Win the special teams battle

We all know the Flyers basically live and die with their special teams, and that was the difference in the Montreal game as the power play grabbed two goals while the penalty allowed yet another tally.

The Coyotes’ 26th-ranked power play should give the Flyers’ penalty a chance for a clean sheet, at the very least. Arizona is 18th on the penalty kill, but has killed off 11 of 13 power plays over their last four games.

The Coyotes aren’t a great even strength team, but the Flyers have a huge advantage on the power play and can break this game open if their penalty kill can come up big.

Don’t overlook the Coyotes

The Flyers were already too charitable to the Coyotes earlier this year in giving them their first win of the season back in October. Dave Hakstol’s group can’t get caught up and look ahead to a matchup in Vegas with the Knights or else they’ll be kicking themselves after potentially leaving valuable points on the table against the worst team in the league.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Voracek - Patrick - Simmonds

Raffl - Laughton - Weal

Lehtera - Filppula - Weise

Defense

Provorov — Gostisbehere

Hagg — MacDonald

Manning — Gudas

Goalies

Neuvirth

Elliott