Happy Saturday, folks! Have we dipped into the green beers already? There’s important business to attend to with them, but the Flyers are also playing tonight! So before we get too deep into those beverages, why don’t we get into this game preview.
The Flyers square off against the Hurricanes tonight, and are looking to pick up some much needed points in this divisional game. The Hurricanes are sitting at sixth in the Metro, having lost seven of their last 10 games. But one of those three that they won? Yeah, it was against the Flyers, where they caught them flat and effectively beat up on them, putting up a 4-1 victory earlier this month. Since then, the Flyers have been in rough shape themselves, but I don’t think I have to tell you that. They’re still holding onto third in the division, helped out by a tiebreaker over Columbus, but they’re heading on a pretty ugly trajectory. Tonight, they’ll look to right the ship. And they have three keys to doing so.
1. Consistency from special teams
You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about the Flyers’ special teams units of late, and this is because they just keep switching it up on us. They just can’t stay good or bad and let us move onto something else, instead they’ll put up a few solid showings and trick us into thinking that maybe they’re turning a corner. And then they smash that dream.
Monday’s game was more of the latter, as the penalty kill allowed two goals and the power play continued to flounder. We’ve seen both of these units be effective if they just buckle down and Do The Thing, and they just need to get back to that. This means more getting after the puck to clear by the PK, and less trying to be too cute with their passing plays by the power play. They know what’s working by now, and what isn’t. They just have to do it.
2. Consistency from goaltender(s)
Are you sensing a trend here? We’ve seen volatility from special teams, and we’ve seen volatility from the goaltenders. After looking solid on Saturday, and fine enough on Monday, Petr Mrazek’s regression continued into Thursday, when he looked just plain rough, giving up four goals on ten shots before we even hit the six minute mark of the second period. He was pulled in favor of Alex Lyon, who was able to stop the bleeding and keep the Flyers in the game. It should be of little surprise, then, that Lyon is slated to start today in Carolina.
But Lyon too has shown some shakiness in his performances--with lateral movement speed and rebound control acting as particular trouble areas--but we’re also seeing him working well to slowly clean up his game. The Flyers will need him to step in and help them stop the bleeding of this whole recent stretch of games, and he’ll need to be solid to do it. He doesn’t have to be flashy, just steady, able to get the job done.
3. Let’s end some more droughts!
Surprise! We broke our pattern! Sorry if that’s dissatisfying, but it had to be done.
One of the high points of Thursday’s game was Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal, for the fact that is was a much needed conversion on the power play, but also as it served to snap his scoreless streak. And this, too, is something we need to see more of. Secondary scoring has emerged as something of a trouble area for the Flyers, as they continued to be carried overwhelmingly by the efforts of the top line. And with goaltending as a particular weakness of Carolina’s, they stand to have their chances for scoring from their depth forwards and to break a few more of these droughts. They’re creating chances, but just can’t seem to convert on them. The feeling, of late, has been one of anticipation, that once one break comes for the depth forwards, the proverbial floodgates will open. And tonight seems like as good a night as any to have this happen.
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek
Raffl - Filppula - Simmonds
Lehtera - Laughton - Read
Provorov - Gostisbehere
Sanheim - MacDonald
Manning - Gudas