It’s the second game of 2019 and the Flyers are, fittingly, going into tonight trying to halt a losing streak. After losses to the same Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, in addition to losses vs. Tampa Bay and Florida, it’s getting to be a bit much! The first meeting between the Flyers and Hurricanes was a horrific showing by the team, as Carter Hart let in three soft ones in the first and the team essentially gave up from there.
This time, the Hurricanes come to Philly in another divisional showdown. The Flyers did a lot of the right things vs. Nashville on Tuesday, but simply did not have the finish to get the job done. This was a stark contrast from the performance vs. Carolina, where the team did almost nothing right after the first period, and it showed on the scoresheet. They went 3-1 vs. Carolina last year and if they wish to duplicate that record, they’ll need a win tonight.
The Canes haven’t played since New Year’s Eve, so they’ll have the advantage in regards to rest leading into this game with the Flyers having played on the road on Tuesday. It was expected that Carter Hart would receive the start in hopes to redeem himself for his poor outing vs. Carolina on New Year’s Eve, but instead it appears as though Michal Neuvirth will make his second consecutive start.
It was thought that center Nolan Patrick could make his return to the lineup tonight, but it appears as though that will have to wait for Saturday vs. Calgary. It’s been a rough start yet again for the Flyers center, as he’s posted just 11 points in 33 games and has missed time in two stints this season.
1. Show some finish
As previously mentioned, the Flyers did a lot of things right offensively on Tuesday vs. Nashville. They attacked the high danger areas, played a relatively up tempo style, and won board battles. They even kept Nashville to the outside extremely well and outside of the defensive blunders that of course lead to goals, the defense stifled the Preds for much of the game.
In the previous game vs. Carolina, the Flyers failed to do either of the two. They were unable to get high quality chances on the Canes defense and although the defensive effort wasn’t awful, they allowed Carolina to control the pace of play even with a 3-0 lead. Carolina is one of the better teams in the league in limiting shot attempts from the high percentage areas, and generating shots from those areas themselves.
2. Neuvirth starts again
Michal Neuvirth was not bad by any means vs. Nashville. In fact, his defense left him hung out to dry on almost each of the four goals Nasvhille scored on Tuesday, and the only one I’d really consider putting a lot of blame on Neuvirth is the fourth and final goal. Neuvy has been strong since returning from injury and will look to pick up his first win since the Rangers game two days before Christmas.
Neuvy’s career numbers vs. the Hurricanes may have been a deciding factor for Gordon to start the veteran netminder. In 13 games played, Neuvirth is 7-3-1 with a .922 save percentage. If we see that kind of Neuvirth tonight, it should be a good night for the orange and black.
3. Special teams, what would you say you do here?
It’s been said time and time again this season, and for good reason, where are the Flyers special teams? The power play is at an abysmal 12.4 percent which is dead last in the NHL by almost a full percent. We all know how bad the penalty kill has been and they really have been, but at this point I’d argue the PK is better than the power play. It’s absolutely incredible how one of the better power plays over the course of the past decade has all of a sudden become the worst in the NHL.
If it doesn’t happen to start today’s game, I’d like to see at least at some point tonight James van Riemsdyk take Wayne Simmonds spot on the first power play unit. JVR has for sure not been spectacular to start his second stint with Philadelphia, but he’s also not had the luxury of top power play unit minutes. Simmonds has struggled not only at 5-on-5, but on the man advantage as well which is where he’s supposed to excel. It’s time for a change on that top unit.
Flyers Projected Lineup
Raffl — Giroux — Konecny
Laughton — Couturier — Voracek
JVR — Weal/Patrick — Simmonds
Lindblom — Varone — Weise
Provorov — Sanheim
Hagg — Gostisbehere
MacDonald — Gudas