Oh. Oh yeah. The not-Super BowlChamps are doing a thing. The ice sport is back. That’s a thing. Are we feeling it? Can we pretend? Please read what I have to say anyway.
The Flyers, as we know, are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, but seem to be hitting something of an upswing. Their last loss was in the shootout, which still picked them up a point in the standings and featured an exciting second-half resurgence, a showing more dominant than we’ve seen recently. They’ll be looking to keep rolling with that momentum and snap that losing streak, and this divisional match-up against the Hurricanes will serve as a perfect opportunity. The Flyers and Hurricanes are sitting at sixth and seventh in the metro, respectively, and each are looking to claw their way into that final wildcard spot, taken by the Islanders last night.
The Hurricanes come into tonight’s game 24-21-8, with 56 points. They’re still very much in the playoff conversation, but frustration’s been bubbling of late, among both their fans and their coach. They’ve lost six of their last ten games. They’ve been accused of just not showing up. They’ve only scored more than two goals in one of their last seven games. So, you know what that means: they’ll score five goals (I’ll take your over/unders in the comments section) for a tidy win over the Flyers.
So, without further ado, our Three Things:
1. New look
What’s that you say? Weren’t we just talking about the Flyers doing some lineup shuffling ahead of Saturday’s game? Well, we’ve got some more of that.
Saturday saw Taylor Leier back in the lineup for Tyrell Goulbourne, sent back down to Lehigh Valley, and seeing time on the fourth line with Valterri Filppula and Jori Lehtera. Tonight, he figures to see time on the third line with Scott Laughton and Jordan Weal (and the bees remain back in town), while Michael Raffl is shuffled down to the fourth line. And this brings some interesting potential: the third line gets a bit of extra speed while the fourth may get a play-driving bump, or so seems to be the idea. The lines weren’t performing altogether poorly on Saturday, but the hope is that these tweaks can give them a further boost.
2. New looks (volume 2)
But it doesn’t end with the forwards! We’ve got changes everywhere!
Just yesterday, the Flyers loaned Alex Lyon to the Phantoms and activated Brian Elliott off IR, and he seems slated to make the start tonight. The story of goaltending has been a volatile and dramatic one since Elliott last played, and if nothing else, the Flyers--and all the rest of us--will be glad to have his stabilizing presence back between the pipes. Elliott hasn’t been out for long, just about a week and a half, but we could still reasonably see a bit of rust. But the fact remains that Elliott has been tried and true for the Flyers, and there may well be something left to be said for the mental impact of having him back behind them again.
3. Striking first
Remember how nice the third period of Saturday’s game was? How dominant the Flyers managed to be? How exciting that late-game comeback was? It was great, but we shouldn’t hope for more of that. As we pointed to, the Hurricanes have been struggling to create offense recently, so the Flyers will want to look to take an early lead and work on building and cushioning it, as the game goes on. They played with incredible pace late in Saturday’s game, and they need to bring that level of effort and energy right out of the gates. None of this slow starts nonsense. No thank you.
The projections up so far over at Corsica have this one presenting as a relatively even match-up, but still favor the Hurricanes 52.4 percent to the Flyers’ 47.6 percent.
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Voracek - Patrick - Simmonds
Leier - Laughton - Weal
Raffl - Filppula - Lehtera
Provorov - Gostisbehere
Hagg - MacDonald
Manning - Gudas