Well, who doesn’t love a road trip? The Flyers swung back home for one game this week after finishing up their Europe trip, and now they’re on the road again. Which means we also haven’t seen much of them on the ice, with all of those travel days. To recap, the Flyers have already beaten the Blackhawks and Devils in their first two games, so we know that they’re going 82-0 this season, right?
Okay, maybe not. But we’re at least hoping that they can at leas extend that streak to three with a win over the Canucks tonight.
The Canucks are off to something of a lopsided start—after losing a close season opener (3-2 to the Oilers), they were shut out 3-0 by the Flames, and then came back and beat the Kings handily 8-2. They’re hanging out at fifth in the Pacific right now, and are hoping to prove that they can compete with an opponent that should be, on paper, a little tougher, and not just beat up on weaker teams like the Kings.
Three players to watch
1. Travis Konecny
If someone were to ask you, who’s been the best skater for the Flyers so far this season, probably one of the first names to come to mind would be Konecny’s. He’s off to a stellar start, having recorded five points (two goals and three assists) in his first two games, and has just continued to be a ton of fun to watch. While we don’t expect him to score at this pace for the whole season (wouldn’t that be nice?), he’s having a stronger start than we’re used to seeing from him, and we’re eager to see how much longer he can keep up the good work and keep this hot streak going.
2. Kevin Hayes
Hayes is off to a good start to the season after a strong preseason, and he picked up his first official goal as a Flyer on Wednesday against the Devils. He’s been bringing that bit of offense, while looking strong on the penalty kill. He seems to be fitting in well with his new team, but you’re always a little cautious about how a new player will really fit in until he looks consistently good over a larger sample, you know? So, while we like what we’re seeing from Hayes so far, we’re still waiting for that larger sample to come together, and we wait to see if he can maintain this level of play.
3. Quinn Hughes
It’s not just Flyers that you should be watching! Hughes (not the one that we saw on Wednesday), is in his rookie season with the Canucks and just picked up his first two points (a goal and an assist) in their last game against the Kings, and is at a 61.18 CF% on the season. The Canucks might not have a roster that, from top to bottom, strikes fear into your heart, but they do have a corps of good young players that they lean on to produce, and Hughes is working his way well into that group.
Two big questions
1. Will the penalty kill hold steady?
We’ve been seeing some positive results from the penalty kill so far this season, and if nothing else, it’s refreshing. It seems like it’s been a while since we didn’t have to hold our breath for he full duration of a penalty kill, but so far, that’s how it’s been. It’s a slightly more aggressive style that they’ve been using, and it’s been paying off for them. But because of the Flyers’ track record on the penalty kill, our sort of natural inclination is to just be waiting for the wheels to come off. So we’re keeping an eye on that to see if that happens, or if they’re able to continue to be effective.
2. Will the big names continue to stand out?
As we alluded to already, it’s been some of the bigger names--Konecny, Hayes, Sean Couturier, to name a few--who have been standing out in these first two games, but who will be next to flash? We’re somewhat expecting these players to hold steady and still be impactful, but will they be the only ones? By the underlying numbers, just about the whole of the team is doing well, but we are left wondering when we might see a bit more from some of the depth players. Will this be the game? We’ll have to see.
Puck drops tonight at 10:00 (ew), and you can check out the projected lineup below.
Giroux — Hayes — Voracek
Lindblom — Couturier — Konecny
JVR — Laughton — Twarynski
Bunnaman — Raffl — Pitlick
Provorov — Braun
Gostisbehere — Hagg
Sanheim — Niskanen