After a rough weekend and a couple of back to back losses, the Flyers are back on the road and back at it again tonight. They’ve slipped to fifth in the Metro, but with only one point separating them and the third place Hurricanes, and five between the second place Islanders, things are pretty tight in the middle of the division, and the Flyers are still right there in the mix.
It’s the first time we’re seeing the Panthers this season, and they’ve off to a pretty good start. They’re currently third in the Atlantic with 25 points and a 10-5-5 record. It’s been something of a volatile way to get there, as the Panthers seem to be playing some high-event hockey—they’ve scored the most goals of any team in their division (74), but also allowed the third most (74). So we might reasonably expect a nice back and forth game tonight.
Three players to watch
1. Morgan Frost
Surely you’ve heard by now, but the day we’ve been waiting for is finally here—Morgan Frost is a Flyer. He’s been off to a very good start to the season down in Lehigh Valley, and the Flyers have decided that he’s ready to make the jump. Tonight will be his first chance to show what he can do, and he’s being put in just about the best position to succeed. On a line with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, he’s set to get meaningful minutes playing alongside some very good players. He’s getting a big opportunity here, and while we don’t expect the transition to be seamless, we’re excited to see what he’s able to do with that opportunity.
2. Philippe Myers
After sitting out against the Islanders on Saturday, Myers figures to be back in the lineup tonight. It’s not really clear if it was a healthy scratch on Saturday or not—Alain Vigneault mentioned before the game that they had a couple of guys who were a little dinged up, but then he also said after the game that Myers was healthy, so you can do with that what you will. All the same, despite a not so stellar game in Ottawa, Myers has been playing well since his recall, and will be looking to get back to that form in his return to the lineup tonight. He’s still paired with Travis Sanheim, so no adjustments to make there, he’ll just have to get his play cleaned back up.
3. Claude Giroux
It isn’t exactly the boldest take to say that we haven’t been seeing as much from Giroux this season as we were expecting. This isn’t to say that he’s been bad, just not as effective as we’ve come to expect him to be. We can’t help but feel like a good piece of this comes from him being asked to move back to center, where he’s proven to not be as effective. But he’ll be back on the wing tonight (but still taking the majority of faceoffs), and hopefully that will alleviate some of the pressure for him and allow him to get back on track. It certainly can’t hurt.
Two big questions
1. Can the penalty kill rebound?
The Flyers’ penalty kill, after a pretty successful run, have now allowed goals in the last two games. Overall, their process has been sound, and they’ve been doing well to limit the number of chances they’re giving up—they’ve allowed the second fewest shot attempts and the fewest shots of any team in the league on the penalty kill. But a couple of bad breakdowns have let the puck in the back of the net. We expect them to rebound, with how effective their process has been, to date, it’s just a matter of time. And we’re hoping that tonight is the night for that rebound.
2. Will the new lines meet expectations?
Looking at the lineup for tonight, with Frost called up and Giroux finally moved back to wing, this might be as optimized as we’ve been all season, and as we could hope to be until Scott Laughton makes his return. On paper, players are falling more into what we would consider to be their “proper” roles, but that doesn’t always mean that things are going to click immediately. But we’ll be keeping an eye out for signs of improvement, hoping that they’ll be able to start showing some signs of life.
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight, and you can check out the projected lineup below.
Lindblom — Couturier — Farabee
Giroux — Frost — Konecny
Van Riemsdyk — Hayes — Voracek
Andreoff — Raffl — Pitlick
Provorov — Niskanen
Gostisbehere — Braun
Sanheim — Myers