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Flyers vs. Avalanche preview: Let’s try this again

Please, do better...

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up, pals? How are we doing? Last night was a real bummer, right? A point is still nice, but the Flyers deserved the two, right? On the bright side, we don’t have a lot of time to be sad about that, as they’re right back at tonight against the Avalanche, and we’ll have something new to be worked up about soon enough. Maybe what we can get the most worked up about is the fact that this is a 10:00 start. And honestly, that’s just mean. But I digress.

The Flyers, as we know, are coming off a tough overtime loss in Dallas last night. They put up a good effort, but just couldn’t pull it off in the end. But it’s not all bad news—that point they earned keeps them in the first wildcard spot, and still two above New Jersey. The teams behind them are closing in, and points accruing remains critical, but we shouldn’t fall into panic mode just yet, at least.

But the fact remains that this figures to be a tough game, as the Flyers match up against a surging Avalanche team, looking to make their own push into the playoffs. They’ve won seven of their last ten games, and have Nathan MacKinnon, whose name keeps popping up in Hart Trophy conversations, leading the charge. This doesn’t seem, on paper, to be a cakewalk for the Flyers, but maybe that’s better, as we’ve seen how they’ve fared with these should-win games of late.

But enough lamenting, let’s move on to our three things.

1. Keeping up

Probably one of our more general, least technical points of late, it seems worthwhile to note that they Flyers have generally fared well against good teams on the back ends of back-to-backs so far this season. And while this is hardly a trend to bank on, it’s one that’s at least served them well so far. The Flyers have nothing if not endurance, and they’ll need to be able to hang on to this if they hope to keep up with the Avalanche. They gave a rested team a fair bit of trouble way back in the early part of the season, and have only picked up steam since then. Being able to skate with them and play a full sixty minutes are in some ways the minimum needed, but remain crucial, if they want to pick up more points before the road trip draws to a close.

2. Lyon time...?

And with conserving energy being something of the name of the game, it seems reasonable to expect that Lyon should get the start tonight after resting last night. He’s been playing well, with Sunday’s showing against the Penguins being a bit of a hiccup. While three goals on 11 shots is not a figure you want to be hearing, they weren’t particularly frustrating goals, and it seems his being pulled could be equally attributed to Hakstol playing one of his two cards he has when trying to send a message to his team. But still, the results remain.

As we’ve noted more than once in regard to Lyon’s play, he hasn’t been perfect or flashy, but by and large he’s been steady enough for them, and this is really all they need. Not anything showy, just solid and competent—enough to get the job done.

3. Nitpicking

Our broader point here could be “all of special teams needs to shape up,” and we could narrow further still and say “the penalty kill needs to be better.” And all this would be true, to be sure, but it seems worth honing in on one particular area that’s giving them trouble.

In the past two games, we’ve seen two power play goals given up in much the same fashion—in each case, it was Radko Gudas slipping on his coverage and letting an opponent get the inside on him, left open to collect a pass or rebound in the front of the net. And it would be easy, at this point, to just say that this is Gudas playing poorly and making mistakes (which wouldn’t be wholly incorrect), but where this coverage plan comes from is not the player, but the system. And this is where things get tricky—we’ve been grumbling about the PK system all season, as it keeps failing, but one would think that seeing two goals given up in nearly identical fashion would convince them that something needs to change. I don’t know if they’ll do it. But they need to.

Puck drops at 10:00 tonight (ugh) and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.


Giroux - Couturier - Konecny

Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek

Weal - Filppula - Simmonds

Lehtera - Laughton - Read


Provorov - Gostisbehere

MacDonald - Sanheim

Manning - Gudas